The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) leader Kim Jong-il promised on August 24 to consider suspending nuclear arms tests and production if international talks on Pyongyang's atomic program resume, a Kremlin spokeswoman said.
The pledge, made at talks with President Dmitry Medvedev, was intended to improve the chances of reviving the six-nation aid-for-disarmament talks that collapsed when the DPRK walked out of them in 2008.
Diplomats, however, may treat it with caution as they say Pyongyang has flouted past agreements over its nuclear weapons ambitions and is unlikely to give up efforts to build an atomic arsenal it sees as a bargaining tool with the outside world.
"Kim Jong-il expressed readiness to return to six-party talks without preconditions," Medvedev's spokeswoman, Natalya Timakova, said after the president met Kim at a military base in the Siberian town of Sosnovy Bor near Lake Baikal.
"In the course of the talks the DPRK will be ready to resolve the issue of imposing a moratorium on testing and production of missile and nuclear weaponry."
Timakova's comments made clear the DPRK wanted to discuss a moratorium only after six-nation talks resume with Russia, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the US. Washington and Seoul say it must agree to a moratorium before talks reconvene.
The talks are intended to provide the impoverished and secretive DPRK with economic aid as an incentive for giving up its nuclear weapons program.
Moscow and Beijing have called for a quick resumption of talks. Seoul, Washington and Tokyo say they are willing to resume the talks where they left off, but that Pyongyang must first show it is serious about denuclearizing.