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Kim's 'bitter sorrow' as N. Korea bus crash kills 32 Chinese tourists

24 April 2018

Some Pentagon officials have privately expressed skepticism about Kim's sincerity, noting North Korea's long history of failing to live up to deals negotiated with the United States, including accords struck by the administrations of former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. "That site in northern North Korea probably could not have withstood another nuclear detonation".

So far, North Korea has only announced that it has halted nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile testing and suspended a nuclear test site.

38 North said there is another potential test tunnel, accessible via the South Portal, that remains suitable for underground nuclear tests.

According to the official account of the party plenary, Kim said that such testing was no longer necessary "given that the work for mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic rockets was finished as the whole processes of developing nuclear weapons were carried out in a scientific way and in regular sequence".

South Korea's military on Monday switched off giant loudspeakers blasting messages towards the North's soldiers at the border, in a conciliatory gesture ahead of Friday's historic inter-Korea summit between Kim and South Korea's President Moon Jae-In.

Shortly before he became Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton told Radio Free Asia that nuclear negotiations with North Korea should be similar to past discussions with Libya, which dismantled its rudimentary nuclear program in the 2000s.

But no one anticipated the speed with which relations have improved since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a conciliatory New Year's address at the end of last year, following months of sharply rising tension over his weapons.

In this Sunday, April 22, 2018 image taken from video footage by China's CCTV via AP Video, an injured passenger receives medical treatment at a hospital following a bus accident in North Hwanghae province, south of Pyongyang, North Korea.

Failure to reach a nuclear agreement would raise serious questions about the sincerity of Kim's recent outreach to Seoul and Washington and rekindle the fears of war that spread across the Korean Peninsula past year.

The South broadcasts include K-pop hits, while the North favours patriotic songs and praise for its leader Kim Jong Un.

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North Korea argues that it needs its nukes because of the US military presence in South Korea and annual US-South Korean military exercises that the North claims are an invasion rehearsal.

The North's leader may be hoping to ease those economic restrictions on the back of this Friday's first inter-Korean summit since 2007.

That, critics say, could enable the North to secretly continue its weapons programs while winning badly needed aid.

Go Myong-Hyun is with the Seoul-based Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

North Korean experts say that the Pompeo visit can not be the only meeting between now and the time of the possible summit.

Asked what denuclearization means to both sides, White House Legislative Director Marc Short said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that there needs to be a sit-down meeting to make sure everyone's on the same page.

By adopting a stance of mutual arms control rather than unilateral North Korean denuclearization, Kim may attempt to put the onus on US possession of nuclear weapons.

"When nearly everybody is beginning to wonder whether North Koreans are really going to strike, or start a war, or do something, North Korea suddenly suggests negotiations, and then extracts concessions for their willingness to go back to the status quo".

Still, the shares of South Korean companies with business links to North Korea rallied after Pyongyang's weekend announcement.

A country giving up its nuclear weapons is rare, but not unheard of.

Kim's 'bitter sorrow' as N. Korea bus crash kills 32 Chinese tourists