The government of North Korea has agreed to implement a moratorium on long-range missile launches, nuclear tests, and nuclear activities at Yongbyong, including uranium enrichment activities. North Korea has also agreed to the return of International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, inspectors to verify and monitor the moratorium on uranium enrichment activities and confirm the disablement of the five-megawatt reactor and associated facilities.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was quick to add that the United States “still has profound concerns, 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.” The recent announcement by North Korea is a modest first step in the right direction. The United States, said Secretary Clinton, “will be watching closely and judging North Korea’s new leader by their actions.”
North Korea’s decision to take some concrete measures to demonstrate its commitment to denuclearization is a positive first step. However, there has been no decision on a return to the Six-Party Talks. The United States has consistently made clear that it is not interested in talks just for the sake of talks, and the U.S. has said it will actively consult with its allies and partners in order to set the stage for real and lasting progress in the multilateral phase.
It’s important to translate this initial sign of Pyongyang’s seriousness of purpose into substantive and meaningful negotiations on denuclearization and secure steady progress toward complete and verifiable dismantlement of the entire nuclear weapons program.