Kim Jong-un reportedly told South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in that he is willing to abandon his regime’s nuclear weapons in exchange for a formal end to the Korean War and a U.S. promise to not invade North Korea. He also invited outside observers to come monitor the shutdown of his country’s one known underground nuclear test site next month.
Kim apparently made the private assurances at his historic meeting with Moon on Friday at the border village of Panmunjom. Kim made no public announcements at the time about his supposed willingness to renounce nuclear weapons, however. North Korea has also said nothing about any kind of possible timeline for denuclearization, or even explained what it thinks the term means.
According to South Korean officials, Kim — who has repeatedly threatened to launch missiles at the U.S. — said that, “I know the Americans are inherently disposed against us, but when they talk with us, they will see that I am not the kind of person who would shoot nuclear weapons to the south, over the Pacific or at the United States.”
“If we meet often and build trust with the United States and if an end to the war and nonaggression are promised, why would we live in difficulty with nuclear weapons?” he reportedly also said. The Trump administration had already been briefed on Kim’s comments.
Grand overtures, private conciliatory statements, and historic photo ops aside, it is far from clear that the upcoming summit between the two Koreas and the U.S. will amount to lasting change. North Korea has broken its nuclear program promises before, and the U.S. is about to break its latest one too, assuming President Trump tries to cancel the Iran nuclear deal next month.