North Korea’s Kim agrees to shut missile site

Moon was greeted by Kim at the airport

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un offered on Wednesday to permanently dismantle the country's main nuclear site, but only if the United States makes concessions first.

Pyongyang says it has destroyed its main nuclear and missile engine test site, and has halted atomic and ballistic missile tests, but USA officials and analysts believe it is continuing to work on its weapons plans clandestinely.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R), welcomes South Korean President Moon Jae-in during a ceremony at Pyongyang airport.

Seoul and Pyongyang have both been keen to promote inter-Korean ties, with Kim looking to secure cooperation from the far wealthier South in economic projects, and Moon looking to reduce the risk of a US-North Korean conflict that would devastate his country.

As Pyongyang has observed, Mr Trump himself has been positive about the diplomatic process with North Korea, but his deputies, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis, and National Security Adviser John Bolton, have voiced reservations about North Korea's progress on denuclearisation and calls by both Koreas for the United States to sign on to a declaration to end the Korean War.

He also expressed hope to keep up the momentum of talks to bring about another summit between North Korea and the U.S.

South Korea's president is on a three-day visit to Pyongyang following two previous meetings with Mr Kim this year. But experts said the document only contained vague promises that would do little to curb the North's nuclear program.

The leaders emphasized that they understood "practical progress" was needed to move forward, but many North Korea policy experts expressed doubt about Kim's intentions.

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A range of positive inter-Korean initiatives were also announced on the second day of the Inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital. And while South Koreans mostly ignore North Korea's vows to turn Seoul into a "sea of fire", they also know that it could technically be done, more or less; the first time Pyongyang made that now-common threat, in 1994, it caused panic in Seoul. "There is going to be a lot of work to do to make [North Korea's denuclearization offer] materialize".

The Kaesong industrial park is subject to Security Council sanctions adopted in September 2017 that banned clothing and textile exports, as well as a ban on financial joint ventures with North Korea.

Beyond Tongchang-ri, Mr Moon announced an unexpected potential concession: North Korea would be willing to permanently shut down its well-known nuclear facilities at Yongbyon.

To further promote reconciliation, the divided Koreas have agreed to soon establish a new joint facility for more frequent and freer reunions of families separated since the end of the Korean War.

Washington is demanding concrete action towards denuclearisation, such as a full disclosure of North Korea's nuclear and missile facilities, before agreeing to key goals of Pyongyang - declaring an official end to the 1950-53 Korean War and easing tough global sanctions.

The two Koreas agreed to begin construction to reconnect railways and roads linking the countries within this year.

The North's unique brand of choreographed mass adulation was on full display as hundreds of people waved North Korean flags and another depicting an undivided peninsula - while the South's own emblem was only visible on Moon's Boeing 747 aircraft.

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