Kim Jong-un says halted North Korean tests for now

Image copyright Getty Images Kim Jong-un’s announcement that North Korea is to halt nuclear and missile tests immediately comes as he prepares for two major diplomatic events. Analyst Ankit Panda asks what the North Korean leader hopes to gain with his latest move.

North Korea’s declaration will no doubt lead to effusive headlines touting an end to nuclear and long-range missile testing, but a look at the country’s historical record and the context of its nuclear and missiles programme suggests that we might temper our expectations. First, regarding nuclear testing, the statement released on Saturday makes clear that the reason Kim Jong-un is submitting voluntarily to a testing freeze and to the closing of the Punggye-ri nuclear testing site – the scene of all six of North Korea’s nuclear tests since 2006 – is because he feels that his country has mastered the design of nuclear weapons. Although difficult to verify, this claim is not obviously an exaggeration or unbelievable. Consider that India and Pakistan, by 1998, had each conducted six nuclear tests and are now counted among the pantheon of nuclear weapons possessors, without conducting further tests. North Korea, with an additional eight years of access to knowledge available in open source material concerning nuclear weapons design, can feel similarly comfortable with its six nuclear tests. On a more granular level, North Korea’s fifth and sixth nuclear tests – in September 2016 and 2017 respectively – marked important benchmarks. The September 2016 test, according to North Korean state media, involved a standardized and compact nuclear device, one that could be mounted on any of its various short, medium, intermediate, and intercontinental-range missiles (ICBMs). The bottom line is that just as Kim Jong-un’s recent trip to Beijing was a show of strength – a signal that he felt comfortable enough in his consolidated domestic power to leave North Korea – so too is the declaration of a nuclear test ban a sign that he feels renewed confidence. As long as North Korea hangs on to its missiles, it can break its self-imposed ban with little warning. In 1999, North Korea submitted to a missile testing moratorium, but that eventually broke down in 2006, a few years after the collapse of the 1994 Agreed Framework. In the end, what North Korea loses by demolishing its nuclear test site and submitting to a unilateral moratorium on ICBM launches is entirely tolerable compared to what Mr Kim gains by sitting alongside President Trump. North Korea’s announcement sounds like the declamations of a nuclear weapons state – one that has no intention of giving up those weapons which give the country its ultimate guarantee of survival. Even though President Trump has lauded Mr Kim’s move as “big progress,” the sooner he recognizes Kim’s ultimate objectives, the better. Nick Note: this is so stupid i can’t believe i am commenting on it. Of course he will stop testing. No need to test anymore once you know how to do it. Do you really believe kin Um Numchucks  is going to GIVE UP his ROCKETS and Nukes? Please give me a break. They know exactly how to  play Trump for the fool he is. Stroke his ego, give hmi  a headline and a golden shower!