North Korea agrees to implement nuclear moratorium | News | DW | 29.02.2012
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North Korea agrees to implement nuclear moratorium

North Korea has agreed to allow IAEA inspectors into the country to monitor a moratorium on its nuclear work. In return, the US has promised significant food aid.

North Korea has agreed to allow IAEA inspectors into the country to monitor a moratorium on its nuclear work. In return, the US has promised significant food aid.

North Koreahas agreed to implement a moratorium on its nuclear activities, including nuclear tests and uranium enrichment, as well as long-range missile launches.

The US State Department said in a statement that North Korean officials had also agreed to allow United Nations nuclear inspectors to visit its Yongbyon nuclear complex in order to "verify and monitor" compliance.

"The United States still has profound concerns regarding North Korean behaviour across a wide range of areas, but today's announcement reflects important, if limited progress in addressing some of these," the State Department statement said.

The deal has been confirmed by North Korea's official KCNA news agency, which said Pyongyang agreed to the deal “with a view to maintaining positive atmosphere for the DPRK (North Korea) -US high-level talks.”

Significant food aid

In return, the US has agreed to provide North Korea with a food aid package, as well as other steps aimed at improving bilateral ties.

"We have agreed to meet with the DPRK to finalize administrative details necessary to move forward with our proposed package of 240,000 metric tons of nutritional assistance," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

The UN’s Vienna-based nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency said its inspectors were ready to return to North Korea.

"The announcement by the United States about its recent talks with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is an important step forward," IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said in a statement.

Starting over

The deal came after Washington and Pyongyang officials met in Beijing over the past week, in their first talks since the death late last year of long-time North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. Those meetings were meant to lay the groundwork for a resumption of six-party nuclear disarmament talks which broke down in 2009.

Reaction to the news of the deal has been generally positive, but observers warn that it shouldn’t be seen as a sign that North Korea’s young new leader, Kim Jong-un can be expected to give up Pyongyang’s nuclear programme anytime in the foreseeable future.

"How does a 28-year-old give up the only legitimate piece of leverage that he has in dealing with the superpowers to preserve the survivability of his regime? He’s not going to do that," former US negotiator Jack Pritchard, who now heads the Washington-based Korea Economic Institute, told the Reuters news agency.

pfd/ipj (Reuters, AP, AFP)