US president Donald Trump left experts baffled when he said North Korea had agreed to destroy a missile engine testing site after emerging from his summit with Kim Jong Un, but it now looks like North Korea is making good.
“They secured the commitment to destroy the missile engine testing site. That was not in your agreement,” Trump said in a press conference after the summit, referencing the joint statement which made no mention of concrete steps towards denuclearization.
“I got that after we signed the agreement. I said do me a favor. You have this missile engine testing site. We know where it is because of the heat. It is incredible the equipment we have to be honest with you. I said can you close it up. He’s going to close it up,” Trump continued.
Trump’s statement at the press conference confused many and may have even divulged a bit much on the military intelligence side, but now reports of the details of the testing site have surfaced.
North Korea will destroy a large-scale facility in Tongchang-ri, North Pyongan Province that was used to test engines for the intercontinental-range ballistic missile, the Hwasong-14, according to South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo.
The Hwasong-14 was the first North Korean missile experts said could hit the US mainland with a nuclear payload.
Diplomacy in action
“Kim promised Trump during their summit on Tuesday to dismantle this facility,” a diplomatic source said told Chosun Ilbo.
“Kim Jong-un must have won a number of major concessions from Trump in other sectors in return for destroying such a major facility,” the source continued.
North Korea did win a number of concessions from Trump, who agreed, also outside of the joint statement, to stop US and South Korean military drills without consulting Seoul first.
World leaders have praised the summit as a great step towards peace and reducing tensions. Measures like the destruction of testing sites in North Korea, if monitored by US and international experts, could build the kind of trust needed to carry out earnest denuclearization.