North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared on April 21, 2018 that the nation would be halting its nuclear tests and intercontinental missile launches and will shut down its atomic test site.
The official announcement stated that from April 21, North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). It further stated that Pyongyang will shut down a nuclear test site in the country's northern side to prove its vow to suspend nuclear tests.
The decision was made in a meeting of the ruling party's full Central Committee, which had convened to discuss a new stage of policies.
The announcement comes five months after the rebel-nation fired off its last ICBM and less than a week before its leader Kim Jong Un is due to meet South Korean leader Moon Jae-in for a rare summit, ahead of a much-anticipated meeting with US President Donald Trump.
According to reports, the country will now gear itself towards building a socialist economy.
US President Donald Trump welcomed the North's announcement, calling it ‘big progress’.
South Korea said the decision signified meaningful progress towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, however, reacted with caution. While he said that the announcement is a forward motion that he would like to welcome but he said what's important is that it leads to complete, verifiable denuclearisation.
North Korea's main ally China also welcomed its decision.
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• North Korea has made rapid technological progress in its weapons programmes under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, especially in the past one year.
• Its increasing prowess in missile testing was met with strict sanctions by the UN Security Council, US, EU, South Korea and other countries.
• The nation defended its nuclear and missile programmes as necessary deterrents against perceived US hostility.
• Last year, it carried out its sixth nuclear test, by far its most powerful to date, and launched missiles capable of targeting the United States of America.
• The tests and escalating hostility with the US raised fears of war.
• However, the military tensions eased a bit with North Korea’s effort to improve ties with South Korea.
• The nation also sent a delegation to participate in the Winter Olympics, which were held in Pyeongchang, South Korea in February 2018.
Though the North has announced the suspension of nuclear missile testing, it has not announced suspension on short or mid-range missile launches or ground-based engine testing.
It also did not suspend the production of more fissile material to build additional warheads or the production of the longer-range missiles.