Published: Wed, September 19, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

North Korea’s Olympic Dream Faces Plenty of Hurdles

North Korea’s Olympic Dream Faces Plenty of Hurdles

North Korea has agreed to "permanently" abolish its key missile facilities in the presence of foreign experts, and is willing to close its main nuclear complex if the United States takes reciprocal action, South Korea's President Moon Jae-in says.

Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, will visit South Korea "in the near future", he said Wednesday after meeting with South Korean president Moon Jae-in.

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.

Declaring they had made a major step toward peace, Moon and Kim stood side by side as they announced their joint statement to a group of North and South Korean reporters after a closed-door meeting Wednesday morning.

He also said he would shutter North Korea's main Yongbyon nuclear production site if the USA takes reciprocal actions - though it wasn't clear what steps he was looking for. 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.

This week's summit comes as Moon is under increasing pressure from Washington to find a path forward in efforts to get Kim to completely - and unilaterally - abandon his nuclear arsenal.

"There is a very good mood and a very good atmosphere, but this is not very specific", said Choi Jin-wook, a North Korea expert at Japan's Ritsumeikan University.

More news: No evidence MA gas blasts were intentional, investigator says

As Moon arrived in Pyongyang, North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency cited a commentary that accused Washington of making "gangster-like" demands and failing to build confidence with measures like a peace declaration.

Coming so soon after last week's lavish celebration of North Korea's 70th birthday, Moon's visit is being cast as something of a tribute, a show of respect. Also, North and South Korea will file a joint bid to host the 2032 Olympics.

Although it was not clear what "corresponding" USA steps North Korea expected as a condition to make good on the promise to shut down Yongbyon, President Trump, in a tweet just after midnight, appeared to deem the summit a success, calling it "Very exciting!"

"Overall, the third inter-Korean summit will probably have the most concrete outcome and will set the tone for any future summits between Kim and Trump", said Ms Basu.

Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest in Washington, tells NPR that keeping the lines of communication open between North and South is paramount.

"While North Korea has stopped testing missiles and nuclear devices, they have NOT moved toward denuclearization", Graham said, adding, "South Korea should not be played by Kim Jong Un".

Moon, meanwhile, achieved an important objective by securing concessions from Kim related to limiting his country's nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The India Olympic Committee has also said it could bid for 2032, as has South Africa's Olympic committee in an attempt to bring the Olympics to Africa for the first time. They will also work to restart a joint factory park in the North border city of Kaesong and tours to the North's Mount Kumgang resort, when conditions are met. The North has long seen the United States military's large footprint in South Korea as a direct threat.

Like this: