23 Apr 2018 11:42

Kim Jong Un's suspension of nuclear, missile tests strengthens N. Korea's position in talks with S. Korea - expert

MOSCOW. April 21 (Interfax) - By stating his readiness to suspend nuclear tests ahead of the inter-Korean summit, Kim Jong Un strengthened his negotiation positions in negotiations with Seoul, demonstrating good will and depriving the South Korean side of arguments that this position was taken under its influence, Konstantin Asmolov, a researcher with the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IFES RAS), said.

"Generally, this statement by Kim Jong Un was predictable. But the real surprise was that the North Korean leader pulled this card out before the inter-Korean summit, not at the summit. That circumstance presents interest, as it creates a situation in which Kim Jong Un again demonstrates his personal good will, that it is not a result of the summit, not a result of negotiations with [South Korean President] Moon Jae-in, after which Seoul could have said that it convinced North Korea," Asmolov told Interfax on Saturday.

"Kim Jog Un thus emphasized that he 'convinced himself,'" he said.

Asmolov believes that this strengthens the negotiation positions of official Pyongyang. North Korea does not lose anything from this step in terms of the state of its nuclear and missile program, as it sits down at the negotiating table having already reached a certain level.

"Because the program to form strategic nuclear forces has virtually been completed, there is no further need for tests from a technical viewpoint. And it is not a good time to conduct them from a political viewpoint, either. This is what the current nuclear powers did in the past as soon as they had completed their programs to create strategic nuclear forces. They halted nuclear tests. North Korea is now doing the same thing," Asmolov said.

Kim decided to suspend nuclear tests and ICBM tests as of April 21, official North Korean media reported on Saturday.

"North Korea will freeze nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile launches starting April 21," South Korean media reported, citing the North Korean agency KCNA.

According to KCNA, North Korea will also shut down its nuclear test site in the northern part of the country. South Korean media reported that the site is most likely Pungeri, where North Korea has tested nuclear weapons.

The decision was made at a session of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of North Korea. Pyongyang made the decision ahead of summits involving Kim Jong Un and the leaders of South Korea and the United States.