South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday asked the UN for help in verifying North Korea’s commitment to shut down its Punggye-ri nuclear test site, during a phone call with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
According to the South Korean Presidential website, the two held a 30-minute phone call to discuss the UN’s role in the ongoing rapprochement between North Korea, its southern neighbor, and the United States.
Following talks the summit between Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last week, Seoul said the DPRK would allow foreign observers and journalists to witness the decommissioning of its Punggye-ri nuclear test site – the location where North Korea has conducted all of its underground nuclear tests to date.
“I would like the U.N. to issue a declaration to support the Panmunjom Declaration via the General Assembly or the Security Council,” Moon told Guterres in comments translated by Yonhap.
The head of the UN said he would support the ongoing peace process and would assign a disarmament official to work with South Korea.
“If we get to denuclearisation the UN is very likely to have a role as the IAEA is really the only international body with both the credibility and experience to conduct verification missions,” a North Korea expert with diplomatic experience told NK News.
“Before then the UN will be pleased to have been invited to make a statement as so far it has had no part in all this diplomacy, although it is supposed to be central to international peacemaking efforts. I suspect that a nice warm statement of support will be issued quickly in order to make the UN appear useful.”
Guterres has previously been supportive of the ongoing diplomatic warming between the two Koreas, and called on the countries to continue their positive momentum.
“The Secretary-General salutes the courage and leadership that resulted in the important commitments and agreed actions outlined in the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula,” spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said last week.
“He counts on the parties to build on their first meeting and swiftly implement all agreed actions to further inter-Korean trust-building and reconciliation; sincere dialogue; and progress towards sustainable peace and verifiable denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.”
North Korea’s apparent concession followed an earlier announcement from Kim on April 20 that he would suspend all nuclear and ballistic missile tests and close the Punggye-ri site.
The North Korean leader said the facility’s mission was complete, adding the country’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles required no further testing.
The DPRK ended its cooperation with the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) almost exactly nine years ago, prohibiting weapons inspectors from visiting its Yongbyon nuclear facility in April 2009.
“(North Korea) has today informed IAEA inspectors in the Yongbyon facility that it is immediately ceasing all cooperation with the IAEA,” the international organization said at the time.
“It has requested the removal of all containment and surveillance equipment, following which, IAEA inspectors will no longer be provided access to the facility.”
Following the inter-Korean summit on Friday, Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump are set to meet in an as yet undecided location in the coming weeks in order to discuss the denuclearization of the peninsula further.
Join the influential community of members who rely on NK News original news and in-depth reporting.
Subscribe to read the remaining 546 words of this article.
Featured Image: President_Moon_Jae-in_Press_Conference_02 by KOREA.NET - Official page of the Republic of Korea on 2017-05-10 14:51:53