Speculation over nuclear tests suspension
In a surprise move, the regime in Pyongyang announced on the weekend that it was suspending its nuclear and missile tests. Coming shortly before the meeting between the North and South Korean leaders and after the meeting of the designated US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with Kim Jong-un, the decision is being heralded as a sign of a détente in the North Korea crisis. Rightly so?
Sobre reflection or just a bluff?
The world will never know what caused Kim's change of heart, Duma writes:
“Kim Jong-un's announcement that he intended to stop his country's nuclear and missile tests came after the secret meeting with the CIA chief and future US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang. What exactly they spoke about we will never know, but it's safe to assume that Pompeo made Kim an offer he couldn't refuse. ... Perhaps, however, Kim simply cracked under the pressure of the sanctions. Or he's bluffing to get the US and its allies off his back. ... After the historic meeting between Trump and Kim soon to take place, a concrete solution could be worked out. More likely, however, is that the game will continue as before.”
Don't read too much into concessions
For the Sunday Times Kim's announcements are no ground for euphoria:
“Those who follow North Korea attentively warn against reading too much into this development. The official statement halting nuclear tests emphasised boastfully that they were no longer necessary because North Korea's capability was 'complete'. Shutting down the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, damaged last year with a reported loss of 200 lives, is not a huge sacrifice. The prize for Mr Kim, a summit on equal terms with a US president, led him to make these modest concessions. The test of that summit will be whether it brings us closer to denuclearisation of the peninsula.”
The onus is now on Washington
The US must not block the path to détente that Pyongyang has opened up, writes Konstantin Kosachev, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian Federation Council, in a commentary published by Echo of Moscow:
“The chance for a de-escalation of the crisis that just two months ago was on the brink of sparking a nuclear conflict is clear. ... However, Pyongyang's current decision won't be enough to normalise the situation. What is needed is operative - and demonstrative - responses from Washington: a shift away from aggressive, condescending rhetoric; a recognition of the DPRK's sovereign right to shape its own development; an end to the threats to effect a changeover of power through foreign intervention. An end to military activities on North Korea's border. And a resumption of political dialogue.”