Pyongyang's significant step towards Korean Peninsula denuclearization

Li Jiayao

by Xinhua writers Li Zhengyu, Cheng Dayu

PUNGGYE-RI, DPRK, May 24 (Xinhua) -- The dismantlement of the Punggye-ri underground nuclear test site on Thursday marked a significant initiative by Pyongyang and sent a strong signal to Washington while situation on the Korean Peninsula has once again reached a critical juncture.

Punggye-ri was where the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) conducted all its six nuclear tests. Its dismantlement before the eyes of foreign reporters testifies to Pyongyang's sincerity to honor its promises on denuclearization and push for a political solution of the Korean Peninsula issue.

Pyongyang has made various eye-catching moves in domestic and foreign policies this year. Domestically the country announced a new strategy focusing on economic development, replacing the old one that prioritized both economy and nuclear capabilities.

On the foreign policy front, DPRK leader Kim Jong Un made two visits to China and met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a historic inter-Korean summit, and has a meeting scheduled with U.S. President Donald Trump next month in Singapore.

Coming at a crucial moment when major parties are working hard to achieve reconciliation and peace on the Peninsula, the dismantlement of the Punggye-ri underground nuclear test site demonstrates Pyongyang's commitment to denuclearization, consolidating the detente needed for a political settlement of the Peninsula issue. It certainly deserves the applause and support of the international community.

The Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, a security issue in nature, largely evolves around the interactions between the DPRK and the United States. Their tit-for-tats since the 1990s have repeatedly led to tensions and crises.

To the relief of many, things started to turn for the better this year as Kim affirmed Pyongyang's intention to denuclearize the Peninsula and Trump responded positively to Pyongyang's security concerns.

For Pyongyang and Washington, a shift from confrontation and unilateral moves to dialogue and consultation addressing each other's core concerns is a big step in the right direction. Pyongyang's dismantlement of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site will help build mutual trust and create a good atmosphere for the planned meeting between their leaders.

History and reality decide that the way ahead to resolve the Korean Peninsula issue could not be easy. The world expects that at a key juncture, both Pyongyang and Washington could stay committed and make the dismantlement of Punggye-ri nuclear test site a fresh starting point for them to move further to meet each other halfway.

It is expected that they would make use of the historic opportunity, increase dialogues to expand consensus, and promote Peninsula denuclearization in a dual-track approach as China advocates, benefiting stability and peace on the Peninsula as well as security and prosperity in the region.


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