Timeline of events leading to N. Korea nuke test suspension


North Korea announced Saturday that it had suspended nuclear and longer-range missile tests and shut down its main nuclear test site as the sanctions-hit country seeks to shift its focus to shoring up its moribund economy, state media said, less than a week ahead of a key inter-Korean summit.

The nuclear test suspension announcement came a day after Moon told news executives that the North had agreed to discuss the summit agenda items - specifically, denuclearization - on terms that might seem favorable to the United States, the South's longtime major ally.

Trump said that CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Kim "got along really well" in their recent secret meeting, and he declared, "We've never been in a position like this" to address worldwide concerns over North Korea's nuclear weapons.

The US president greeted the news in a tweet: "This is very good news for North Korea and the World - big progress!"

"The nuclear test site in northern area will be discarded" - KCNA said as of Saturday North Korea will no longer conduct nuclear or intercontinental ballistic missile tests, and to "ensure transparency" the test site would be closed. It has conducted numerous missile tests, and previous year it detonated its most powerful nuclear bomb.

On Wednesday, Trump, who says he plans to meet Kim in late May or early June for an unprecedented summit to try to persuade him to give up his nuclear weapons, reaffirmed the "unwavering" USA commitment to maintain that umbrella.

But he also said the inter-Korean summit had "a lot of constraints", in that the Koreas could not make progress separate from the North Korea-United States summit, and could not reach an agreement that transcends worldwide sanctions.

And it also could be symbolic, said Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California who studies North Korea's missile program.

The North is suspending, not freezing, its nuclear program for now, but both Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have expressed high hopes that the North is ready to give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for economic assistance. Trump said that was under negotiation and there was a "good chance" of winning their release, but he wouldn't say whether that was a precondition for sitting down with Kim.

January 9: North and South Korean officials meet in the border village of Panmunjom, and agree on North Korea sending athletes and delegates to the Olympics.

Pyongyang said it also plans to close its nuclear test site, although there was no clear indication if it would be willing to deal away its arsenal.

January 1, 2018: Kim says in his New Year's address that he has a nuclear button on his desk, but also calls for improved relations with South Korea.

In his speech at the party meeting, Kim praised his nuclear policy as "a miraculous victory" achieved in just five years.

The United States said on Thursday that in the run-up to Mr Trump's planned summit with Mr Kim, countries should continue to put financial and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang to surrender its banned nuclear weapons.

"If Kim is himself feeling the pain, and if his inner circle, his elites are feeling the pain, then he's going to start paying attention and I think that's what we see".

South Korea welcomed the North's announcement on Saturday.