TOKYO (AP) — North Korea has informed a United Nations aviation agency that it will not conduct unannounced missile tests or further intercontinental ballistic missile launches because its nuclear arms program is now complete and it no longer needs to do such testing.
The pledge was made in meetings between North Korean officials and representatives of the U.N.‘s International Civil Aviation Organization who were in Pyongyang for talks this week, according to an ICAO statement Friday.
Ri Yong Son, deputy director general of North Korea’s aviation administration, said the tests will not be conducted because the North’s "national nuclear arms program was complete," the statement said. Ri said North Korea will enhance its cooperation and communications between military and civil aviation authorities.
The ICAO statement said North Korea is seeking the reinstatement of suspended air services and wants to open new routes through its airspace for overflight traffic. It is also reportedly seeking approval for a route through South Korean airspace, though details on that were not mentioned in the final statement.
North Korea’s pledge could open the way for airlines that now avoid its airspace because of worries about unannounced missile tests, allowing them to take more direct routes that would save fuel and time.
North Korea’s missile tests have raised safety concerns in the past for commercial airliners and fishing vessels at sea, where debris from the missiles falls. North Korea tested its long-range missiles at a record pace last year, heightening such concerns and bringing a rebuke from the U.N. agency.
It has refrained from missile launches so far this year, and announced a moratorium on tests to create a conciliatory mood for a summit with South Korea’s president last month and with U.S. President Donald Trump on June 12.
The U.N. agency welcomed North Korea’s cooperative stance and is considering its requests, the statement said.