Japan not satisfied with North Korea's pledge to stop nuclear tests, will continue pressure: Defence chief

Japan's defence minister Itsunori Onodera said North Korea did not mention "abandonment of short-range and medium-range ballistic missiles". PHOTO: AFP

TOYKO (AFP, REUTERS) - Japan is not satisfied with North Korea's pledge to halt nuclear tests and intercontinental missile launches, its defence minister said on Saturday (April 21), warning that Tokyo will continue to put maximum pressure on Pyongyang.

"We can't be satisfied," Mr Itsunori Onodera told reporters in Washington, saying North Korea did not mention "abandonment of short-range and medium-range ballistic missiles".

He added that Japan will not change its policy of putting pressure on Pyongyang for the "ultimate abandonment of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear arms and missiles".

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un announced Pyongyang will carry out no more nuclear or intercontinental ballistic missile tests and will shut down its atomic test site, the North's state media reported on Saturday.

The declaration, long sought by the US, will be seen as a crucial step in the fast diplomatic dance on and around the Korean peninsula.

It comes less than a week before Kim meets South Korean leader Moon Jae In for a summit in the Demilitarised Zone that divides the peninsula, and ahead of a much-anticipated encounter with US President Donald Trump.

"As the weaponisation of nuclear weapons has been verified, it is not necessary for us to conduct any more nuclear tests or test launches of mid- and long range missiles or ICBMs," Kim told a ruling party meeting.

"The northern nuclear test site has completed its mission," he added at the gathering of the central committee of the Workers' Party, according to the official KCNA news agency.

President Trump has welcomed the statement by the North Korean leader, and said he looked forward to a summit with Kim.

"North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the World - big progress! Look forward to our Summit," Trump said in message on Twitter.

South Korea's presidential office said North Korea's decision is a "meaningful progress" for denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

"It will also contribute to creating a very positive environment for the success of the upcoming South-North summit and North-United States summit," a spokesman for the president's office, Yoon Young-chan, said in a statement on Saturday.

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