Australia could assess North Korean nukes

Daniel McCulloch
Australia is looking at the role it can play following the historic US-North Korean summit

Australia's foreign minister is "cautiously optimistic" following a summit between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, but believes the truly historic day will be when the last of North Korea's nuclear weapons is dismantled.

The US president and North Korean leader pledged at a summit in Singapore on Tuesday to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

Their signed commitment reaffirms an agreement struck between the leaders of North and South Korea.

Julie Bishop described the summit as the first positive development involving North Korea in more than a decade, but said the test would be verification Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program had been destroyed.

"We'll have to see the concrete steps that North Korea takes," she told the ABC.

Complete denuclearisation must mean the irreversible dismantlement of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

"We in Australia, the Australian government is currently assessing what we could offer in terms of expertise to assist in that verification process," Ms Bishop said.

Ms Bishop's opposition counterpart Penny Wong echoed concerns that North Korea might not follow through on its promise.

"The international community must not take the pressure off without confirmation the regime actually committed and is following through with genuine denuclearisation," Senator Wong said in a statement.

"Now would not be the time to ease international sanctions against North Korea."

Mr Trump and Mr Kim also promised to work towards building "a lasting and stable peace" on the Korean peninsula, and to repatriate remains of prisoners of war and those missing in action during the Korean War.

The US president said he would end "provocative" annual joint military exercises with Seoul, and spoke of his hope to one day withdraw the 32,000 American soldiers stationed in South Korea.

Tuesday's summit was the first time a sitting US president had met face-to-face with a North Korean leader.

Mr Trump said he had formed a "special bond" with Mr Kim, and would "absolutely" invite him to Washington.

Mr Kim, whose country is subject to a broad range of international sanctions over its illegal weapons program, said he and Mr Trump had "decided to leave the past behind".

"The world will see a major change," the North Korean leader said.

Australia has imposed sanctions on North Korea - covering travel, goods and services, banking and scientific co-operation - since 2006 in response to the regime's weapons programs.