Koreas commit to 'era of no war'
North Korea said it would close a key missile test facility in the presence of "international experts" and potentially destroy its primary nuclear complex if the United States agrees to corresponding measures, South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced in a joint press conference with Kim Jong Un yesterday.
The two leaders made the announcement on the second day of a three-day summit, their third this year, as part of efforts with the United States to contain the threat of war on the Korean Peninsula.
Speaking to the media yesterday after a brief signing ceremony, Kim and Moon vowed to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula once and for all, something they first committed to at their April summit.
"The world is going to see how this divided nation is going to bring about a new future on its own," Kim said to applause from those gathered.
The two signed a document to strengthen ties between the two halves of the divided peninsula, reported CNN Online.
The document stated that Kim would travel to Seoul "as soon as possible," something no North Korean leader has ever done. Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, agreed to visit Seoul, but never followed through.
Both countries' defense chiefs also signed a 17-page accord in which the two countries vowed to "cease all hostile acts against each other."
"The era of no war has started," said Moon, the first South Korean president to visit Pyongyang since 2007. "Today the North and South decided to remove all threats that can cause war from the entire Korean peninsula."
Building on a growing rapprochement, they agreed to create a facility to hold family reunions at any time, work towards joining up road and rail links, and mount a combined bid for the 2032 Olympics.
The North also agreed to "permanently close" a missile engine testing site and launch facility in Tongchang-ri "in the presence of experts from relevant nations".
Trump welcomed yesterday's declaration, tweeting that Kim had "agreed to allow Nuclear inspections, subject to final negotiations" and adding: "Very exciting!"
The Kremlin said it approved of agreements reached by Kim and Moon, describing them as effective steps towards a political settlement, reported Reuters.
But experts were sceptical.
The North -- whose ballistic missile programme is banned under UN Security Council resolutions -- has carried out several long-range rocket launches from the site, also known as Sohae, but has also used many other locations including Pyongyang airport.
Satellite pictures in August suggested workers were already dismantling an engine test stand at Sohae, reported AFP.
"Kim is playing this brilliantly: verify that I dismantle a single site that I no longer need anyway while I mass-produce the missiles the site helped me develop," said Vipin Narang of MIT.
Moon also said the North could close its Yongbyon nuclear plant if Washington takes "corresponding measures" -- a significant caveat.