North Korea agreed Monday to end its nuclear weapons program in return for security, economic and energy benefits, potentially easing tensions with the United States after a two-year standoff over the North's efforts to build atomic bombs.The only thing to be said about this is that, as I said, it's very tentative. Once the parties start haggling over verification and inspectors, demands and counter-demands will likely get a lot thornier and who knows where that will go? Also of concern: the breakthrough this time around seemed to come when the United States said it would "consider" providing light-water nuclear reactors—reactors that can provide electricity and are allowed under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty—to North Korea. Note that this offer also sat at the center of the Agreed Framework between the Clinton administration and Kim Jong Il in 1994, but that deal fell through first when Congress refused to fund the light-water reactors, and normalization between the two countries fell through. Getting the party of Tom DeLay to fund a nice nuclear-powered Christmas present for Kim Jong Il seems like, um, a bit of a feat, even for Bush. Kim Jong Il, meanwhile, obviously has no qualms about jerking people around.
The United States, North Korea and four other nations participating in negotiations in Beijing signed a draft accord in which the North promised to abandon efforts to produce nuclear weapons and re-admit international inspectors to its nuclear facilities.
Foreign powers said they would provide aid, diplomatic assurances and security guarantees and consider North Korea's demands for a light-water nuclear reactor.