North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday said there was no longer any need for nuclear or missile tests, during a plenary meeting of the central committee of the ruling Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK) in Pyongyang.
During a speech at the event, Kim praised the scientists who worked on the North’s nuclear program and reaffirmed that it was complete.
“From April 21, North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles,” an article covering the meeting from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
“The North will shut down a nuclear test site in the country’s northern side to prove the vow to suspend nuclear tests,” it added.
The article added that the decision to suspend the tests was an important part of the process of global nuclear disarmament and that the DPRK will join international efforts to end all nuclear testing.
The North Korean leader also declared it would never use nuclear weapons other than in a response to a nuclear provocation against it, and that it would not proliferate nuclear technology.
“It’s the first step. This is a necessary but not sufficient step for North Korea to return to its past nonproliferation commitments,” Daniel Pinkston, a North Korea watcher at Troy University told NK News.
“Hopefully, this is the beginning of what would be a long process.”
U.S. President Donald Trump reacted to the news quickly via social media, calling the North’s announcement “big progress.”
“North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the World – big progress! Look forward to our Summit,” Trump said on Twitter.
The North Korean leader added that the DPRK would now turn its focus on building its “socialist economic system.”
“We will concentrate all the efforts to build up a strong socialist economy and mobilize the human and material resources of the country to dramatically raise people’s living standards,” the article reads.
According to the KCNA article, Kim also said that after the completion of the nuclear program last year “dramatic changes are taking place in the international political landscape.”
The remarks are a likely reference to the DPRK’s rapid diplomatic shift of recent, with Kim set to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Trump in the coming weeks to discuss, among other things, denuclearization.
Kim earlier in the month met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, his first meeting with a foreign head of state and trip outside of the DPRK’s borders since he came to power in 2011.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: Rodong Sinmun