North Korea will suspend uranium enrichment and has agreed to a moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests; it has also agreed to allow International Atomic Energy Inspectors to verify and monitor the moratoriums and confirm disablement of its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon. Today's joint announcement suggests North Korea has met the key US preconditions for restarting multi-nation disarmament-for-aid talks from which Pyongyang withdrew in 2009. Before Kim Jong Il's death, the US and North Korea were close to such an agreement.
Hillary Clinton called the suspension of nuclear activities a "modest first step" but also "a reminder that the world is transforming around us." Clinton said the United States will meet with North Korea to finalize details for a proposed package of 240,000 metric tons of food aid, referring to it as "nutritional assistance." She said intensive monitoring of the aid would be required. Since 2006 North Korea has tested missiles, staged two nuclear tests, and unveiled a uranium enrichment program that could give it a second route to manufacture nuclear weapons, in addition to its existing plutonium-based program. Many observers remain skeptical as to whether North Korea will ever give up its nuclear program. (Read more North Korea stories.)