News / Asia

N. Korea to End Nuclear Tests for Food Aid

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called North Korea's agreement to suspend nuclear activities and accept a moratorium on testing 'a modest step' in the right direction, as she testified before a House panel, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called North Korea's agreement to suspend nuclear activities and accept a moratorium on testing 'a modest step' in the right direction, as she testified before a House panel, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb.

Multimedia

Audio
William Ide

North Korea has agreed to temporarily suspend nuclear tests, long-range ballistic missile launches and other nuclear activities, including enrichment of uranium.  U.S. and North Korean officials announced the surprise breakthrough after talks in Beijing.

The announcement came just a little more than two months after the death of the secretive communist state's supreme leader Kim Jong Il.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says that while there still are profound concerns about North Korea's behavior, the announcement reflects progress. "On the occasion of Kim Jong Il's death, I said that it is our hope that the new leadership will choose to guide their nation on to the path to peace by living up to its obligations. Today's announcement represents a modest first step in the right direction," she said.

Ambassador Stephen Bosworth was the Special Representative of the United States for North Korea Policy from March of 2009 until October of last year.

In that role, he was the chief negotiator for the United States with the North Koreans. Ambassador Bosworth is now the Dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.

VOA's Ira Mellman asked him if the newest agreement is the same as he had reached with the North Koreans before the death of Kim Jong Il.

The White House also welcomed the announcement, calling it a "positive step," but stressed that the U.S. is looking for North Korea to follow through with action.

Washington says it is ready to move forward with plans to provide the North with 240,000 metric tons of food aid over a period of a year. The two sides still need to work out the details before deliveries of the aid can begin.

Floods and a poor harvest last year have caused widespread hunger in North Korea.  In the 1990s, the impoverished state suffered a major famine, which is believed to have killed hundreds of thousands of people.

U.S. and North Korean officials say that in addition to a moratorium on missile and nuclear tests, the North has agreed to allow United Nations inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency access to nuclear facilities so they can verify and monitor the suspension of uranium enrichment activities.

IAEA inspectors were kicked out of North Korea in 2009 when the country withdrew from the so-called six-party talks on ending its atomic weapons program.

According to the new agreement, Pyongyang will allow inspectors access to its main facility at Yongbyon and other nuclear sites.  U.S. officials also say inspectors will confirm the disabling of the 5-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon and its related facilities.

A U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity says the steps North Korea has now agreed to, open the door to serious negotiations and wider talks on ending its nuclear weapons program.

Pyongyang conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. It raised new concerns when it confirmed that it had a uranium enrichment program, in November of 2010. The uranium program could give the North another way to make nuclear weapons in addition to its longstanding plutonium-based program.  

Analysts say that while the steps North Korea has agreed to are moving in the right direction, the announcement is not a significant breakthrough.

"A cynical take on it would be that the U.S. is paying additional economic benefits simply for North Korea's agreement to affirm previous agreements that it has already signed its name to three times in the six-party talks," said Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow for Northeast Asia at the Washington D.C.-based Heritage Foundation. "That said, it does provide a means for perhaps re-opening the diplomatic route, but overall there is very little optimism in the Executive Branch and both parties in Congress and experts both within and outside of government that even a resumption of the six-party talks will be successful in the sense of getting North Korea to actually give up their nuclear weapons."

The announcement comes just days after U.S. and North Korean representatives met in China to discuss the resumption of the six-party talks.  The meeting was the first since the authoritarian state transferred power to Kim Jong Il's untested young son Kim Jong Un.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid