N. Korea agrees to suspend uranium enrichment, nuclear tests
North Korea agreed to suspend its uranium-enrichment program, nuclear weapons tests and long-range missile launches in return for 240,000 metric tons of food aid from the United States, the State Department said Wednesday.
The agreement is the first sign of progress in years of stalled U.S. efforts to persuade one of the world’s most isolated and authoritarian countries to abandon its nuclear program. It also marks North Korea’s first major move on the world stage since the death of its leader, Kim Jong Il, and the elevation of his son, Kim Jong Eun. …
… U.S. officials were on the cusp of announcing the broad outlines of almost the same deal in December, days just before Kim Jong Il’s sudden demise. Some believe Wednesday’s announcement may simply reflect a consensus among the inner circle of North Korean leaders to continue that policy.
“This is what we had been trying to do for the last year,” said Stephen Bosworth, dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University who until last year was Obama’s special envoy and chief negotiator with the North Koreans. “It’s a sign that the North Koreans want to have continuity. ... It’s important to keep in mind that this is not one individual acting and that they’ve done this for their own reasons. First, they need the food aid, and I think they probably want a relatively quiet political environment to carry on the transition.”
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