SEOUL - North Korea has agreed to specific denuclearisation steps for the first time, including the permanent closure of its Tongchang-ri engine test site and allowing site inspection by experts, according to South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
North Korea also promised to dismantle its main Yongbyon nuclear test site permanently if the United States abides by the June 12 agreement signed between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to a pact signed between Mr Moon and Mr Kim on Wednesday (Sept 19).
"Complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula is not far away," said Mr Moon, adding that the two Koreas have also agreed to ease military tension and remove all threats of war.
Mr Kim, in return, thanked Mr Moon for his efforts to improve inter-Korean ties, ease military tension and establish permanent peace.
The North Korean leader also announced that he will visit Seoul by the end of the year, at Mr Moon's invitation.
Wednesday’s announcements drew praise from Mr Trump, who tweeted: “Kim Jong Un has agreed to allow Nuclear inspections, subject to final negotiations, and to permanently dismantle a test site and launch pad in the presence of international experts.
“In the meantime there will be no Rocket or Nuclear testing.”https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1042263143496511488 https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1042264934288175105
Mr Kim said: "The September Declaration is aimed at pushing inter-Korea cooperation to a higher level and we will work towards accelerating the peace process."
"There may be unexpected challenges and trials ahead, but we will overcome them and emerge stronger."
Defence chiefs of the two sides also inked on Wednesday a separate military pact to reduce tensions in the Demilitarised Zone, as agreed during the leaders' first summit in April.
The two leaders spoke at a joint press conference, which was telecast live, on the second day of Mr Moon's visit to Pyongyang. His three-day trip will end on Thursday.
Nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled and Mr Trump had asked Mr Moon to help break the deadlock.
While inter-Korea ties have improved since the first Moon-Kim summit in April, joint economic projects cannot proceed unless sanctions are eased upon the North's denuclearisation.
Despite pressure from the US to uphold sanctions, Mr Moon appeared to push the envelope on Wednesday when he announced a slew of collaboration projects. This includes a groundbreaking ceremony within this year to connect railways and roads across the borders, and plans to make a joint bid to host the 2032 Summer Olympic Games.
Mr Moon and Mr Kim also agreed to resume the operation of two suspended joint projects - Kaesong Industrial Complex and Mount Kumgang resort - "when the right conditions are met".