North Korea to suspend Nuclear Work

Discussion in 'Indo Pacific & East Asia' started by nrj, Mar 1, 2012.

  1. nrj

    nrj Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    Nov 16, 2009
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    WASHINGTON — North Korea announced on Wednesday that it would suspend nuclear weapons tests and uranium enrichment and allow international inspectors to monitor activities at its main nuclear complex, a step that raised the possibility of ending a diplomatic impasse that has allowed the country’s nuclear program to continue with no international oversight for years.

    Although the Obama administration called the steps “important, if limited,” they nonetheless signaled that the country’s new leader, Kim Jong-un, is at least willing to engage with the United States, which pledged in exchange to ship tons of food aid to the isolated, impoverished nation.

    The United States and other nations have been watching closely to see whether Mr. Kim’s rise to power would alter the country’s behavior following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, late last year.

    North Korea also agreed on a moratorium on launchings of long-range missiles, which have in the past raised military tensions in the region, but joint statements released by the State Department and North Korea’s official news agency omitted direct references to relations with South Korea, which remain tense.

    North Korea has agreed in the past to halt its nuclear program only to back out, demanding more concessions or accusing the United States of reneging on its obligations. And the statement Tuesday from the North’s official Korean Central News Agency included a caveat, saying the country would carry out the agreement only “as long as talks proceed fruitfully.”

    If the agreement holds, it would ease some anxieties in Washington over the program at a time when the administration, in an election year, is consumed with halting Iran’s nuclear program before Israel decides to stage an attack.

    Senior administration officials said the United States would move cautiously, and that the resumption of substantive talks on North Korea’s nuclear program would begin only after its leaders followed through on the agreement announced Wednesday.

    “The United States, I will be quick to add, still has profound concerns,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at a House appropriations hearing. “But 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 onto the path of peace by living up to its obligations. Today’s announcement represents a modest first step in the right direction.”

    North Korea’s agreement to allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to return to the country appeared to be a significant concession, though officials and analysts offered different theories about why Mr. Kim’s government would make one now.

    After years of negotiations, North Korea expelled inspectors and went on to test nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009. American intelligence officials believe the country has enough fuel already for six to eight weapons, but the progress of its newly disclosed uranium-enrichment program, conducted without international scrutiny, remains unclear.

    Victor Cha, a senior analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said that the announced agreement differed little from previous ones that have failed to produce breakthroughs, but it was nonetheless significant because the return of inspectors could shed light on the country’s nuclear progress.

    “We haven’t had any eyes on this program,” Mr. Cha said. He added that North Korea has tended to avoid provocative actions against South Korea as long as negotiations continued.

    Although administration officials said it was too soon to draw broad conclusions about Kim Jong-un’s intentions, the officials said there was no doubt that he had directly authorized the negotiators to strike the agreement, suggesting he was now firmly in control.

    For the relatively young and inexperienced North Korean leader, the agreement could be crucial to solidifying his hold on power and the backing of the military, analysts in South Korea said. He needs to show in his early months in power that he is improving people’s lives after years of food shortages and a devastating famine.

    He also came into office facing some daunting challenges laid out by his father. Kim Jong-il had declared this would be a breakout year for North Korea, when its economy would take off and the country would mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of his own father, Kim Il-sung, who is revered as the nation’s founder.

    Food aid — and better international relations that could lead to economic support — are considered critical for the North to be able to stage the celebrations with the lavishness North Koreans have come to expect when their leaders are feted.

    The United States agreed to send 240,000 metric tons of food aid, though it limited it to high-protein biscuits, infant formula and other nutritional supplements, rather than rice and grains. Administration officials noted that rice and grains had previously been diverted by the government to the military, or even sold abroad.

    The aid is expected to be delivered in monthly shipments of 20,000 metric tons over the next year. The United States also insisted on rigorous monitoring to ensure that the aid goes to the neediest.

    Two days of talks in Beijing last week between the United States and North Korea initially appeared to have produced few concrete results. But after the North Korean negotiators returned home, the country’s leaders responded positively to American offers to resume international negotiations — and deliver the food aid — provided the country agreed to the steps announced on Wednesday.

    In a statement, the State Department said that in exchange the United States was “prepared to take steps to improve our bilateral relationship in the spirit of mutual respect for sovereignty and equality” and to allow cultural, educational and sports exchanges with North Korea.

    Officially, the Obama administration has refused to link food aid directly to progress in talks, saying it would be decided purely on humanitarian grounds. But officials said the North Koreans insisted on the aid being part of any agreement, and the United States relented.

    The State Department’s announcement did not say when the moratorium would begin, when international inspectors would return to North Korea or when the so-called six-party talks would resume between North Korea, South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Japan.

    Cho Byung-jae, a spokesman at the South Korean Foreign Ministry, welcomed the deal in a statement, saying “We appreciate the efforts of the U.S. government, which has kept close cooperation with us.”

    The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, also welcomed the announcements as “an important step forward,” and said that the agency was ready to return to North Korea.
  3. asianobserve

    asianobserve Elite Member Elite Member

    May 5, 2011
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    Who said sanctions don't work? They'll work after 60 years... :laugh:
  4. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

    Mar 24, 2009
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    Anyone who has followed NoKo will know that they do this when they need aid and food and they will FO back on all promises later.

    I hope Chubby leader has grown a brain now and this is the beginning of the end of their belligerence and isolation.
  5. asianobserve

    asianobserve Elite Member Elite Member

    May 5, 2011
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    A nuclear food dealing scheme... we know. But the constant threat of political and social implosion due to the constant threat of full economic collapse has prevented the Dear leaders in Pyongyang from going full steam in their nuclear weapons program (they have developed some weapons but nothing to rave about in terms of quantity, they're more symbolic).

    JAYRAM 2 STRIKE CORPS Senior Member

    Mar 8, 2011
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    North Frontier, The Mighty Himalaya's
    US welcomes N Korea nuclear move

    1 March 2012 Last updated at 01:36 GMT

    The US has welcomed North Korea's pledge to suspend uranium enrichment, as well as nuclear and long-range missile tests.

    The White House spokesman Jay Carney said the move was a "positive first step" toward denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

    The move follows talks between US and North Korean diplomats in Beijing last week.

    In return, the US has announced 240,000 tonnes of new food aid for the North.

    North Korea confirmed the suspension in a foreign ministry statement released in Pyongyang on Wednesday.

    It said they were "aimed at building confidence for the improvement of relations" between the two countries, and said talks would continue.

    The US State Department said Pyongyang had also agreed to allow UN inspectors to monitor its reactor in Yongbyon to verify compliance with the measures.

    "These are concrete measures that we consider a positive first step toward complete and verifiable denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula in a peaceful manner," Mr Carney said.

    "But obviously they need to be followed up by actions. So, we will pursue this policy area with that approach in mind," he added.

    Analysts remain concerned over the possible existence of uranium enrichment facilities other than Yongbyon.

    The announcement comes two months after Kim Jong-un came to power following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il.

    Correspondents say it could pave the way for the resumption of six-party disarmament negotiations with Pyongyang, which last broke down in 2009.
    Food shortages

    China on Thursday also welcomed the move. Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said it would contribute "to maintaining peace and stability on the Korean peninsula".

    Earlier, a senior US military official had said the issue of food aid for North Korea was now linked to political progress - contradicting earlier policy.

    The North has suffered persistent food shortages since a famine in the 1990s, and relies on foreign aid to feed its people.

    North Korea agreed in 2005 to give up its nuclear ambitions in return for aid and political concessions, as part of a six-nation dialogue process involving the two Koreas, the US, China, Russia and Japan.

    But progress on the deal was stop-start, and the agreement broke down in 2009.

    Contact between the US and North Korea aimed at restarting the talks began in July 2011.

    Last week's meeting between US and North Korean officials in Beijing was the third round of talks aimed at exploring how to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table.

    BBC News - Cautious US welcome for North Korea nuclear moratorium

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