by Graham Pierrepoint
The forthcoming summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un is perhaps nothing short of remarkable – the two political figureheads had previously shared sparring words in the media (Trump taking to Twitter to make his feelings known about Mr Kim and his regime), and with many people fearing that the perceived animosity between the pair could lead to something disastrous, news that they have agreed to meet to discuss matters has been received well, if with some feeling of trepidation. North Korea has hailed the meeting as historic, while US foreign policy is hoping the meeting will be a prime chance to encourage Pyongyang to dismantle and decommission its nuclear arsenal. The jury has been very much out on whether or not this lattermost point would be the case – however, if recent news is anything to go by, it may not be a million miles away from the table.
Reports from North Korea state that dismantlement of a nuclear test site will occur starting May 23rd, in a ceremony which comes a few weeks ahead of Trump and Kim agreeing to meet face-to-face for the first time in Singapore. The news comes shortly after speculation ran rife over whether or not the test site in question – based at Punggye-ri – had in fact been obliterated in the process of testing. However, it seems that the occasion for collapsing the site entirely is being reserved to take place ahead of Trump’s maiden meeting with Mr Kim. The US President hailed the event as a ‘very smart and gracious gesture’, moving in a new direction in comparison with rhetoric being shared by the two figureheads just a year ago.
▶ North Korea to 'hold ceremony for dismantling of nuclear test site in two weeks'
Some are wary of the move – concerned that the announcement to dismantle a testing site is pure PR – and it follows a long line of seemingly diplomatic gestures having been offered up by Kim Jong-Un in recent months. Could this mean that the secretive state is moving in a whole new direction? They have released US detainees in line with foreign request and have agreed to end the long-running war with their Southern counterparts – what could this mean for the future of North Korea? Will this change the image of the reclusive state for good? We will have to see how well the Trump meeting goes down before we can speak with any further certainty.