According to South Korea’s presidential office, North Korea’s nuclear test site will close and the country will cede nuclear weapons, provided the U.S. promises not to invade.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will shut down the Punggye-ri site in May, South Korea’s presidential office said Sunday. In an act of transparency, experts and journalists from South Korea and the United States are invited to North Korea to inspect and report on the closure.
The site is believed to be North Korea’s main nuclear facility. Tests have been done in a system of tunnels below Mount Mantap, near the Punggye-ri site, and six nuclear tests have been carried out since 2006. The most recent test done in September 2017 caused a series of aftershocks, and seismologists believe that this caused the collapse of part of the mountain’s interior.
In addition to closing the Punggye-ri site, Kim Jong Un promised to abandon his nuclear weapons if the United States agreed to formally end the North Korean War and refrain from invading his country.
The South Korean presidential spokesman Yoon Young-chan quoted Kim as saying, “The United States, though inherently hostile to North Korea, will get to know once our talk begins that I am not the kind of person who will use nuclear weapons against the South or the United States across the Pacific.”
These acts are another significant step towards peace by Kim Jong-Un. Just a few days ago, Kim and South Korea president Moon Jae-in made history by crossing over a border that has divided the countries for 65 years. A few months ago the two Koreas had united as a team for the Olympics, the first time the countries had a unified athletic team in 11 years.
In a smaller, but still symbolic act, North Korea plans to match time zones with South Korea. The two countries were previously half an hour apart.
“There were two different clocks in the reception hall at Peace House. One was for Seoul time and the other for Pyongyang time, which made my heart heavy,” Moon’s office quoted Kim as saying. “Let’s first unify the two different times of the two Koreas.”
While it will take time to build trust among the nations, North Korea appears to be making the efforts towards that direction. However, it will take more than words to create peace; North Korea will need to continue to make concrete changes to fully gain trust from the rest of the world.