Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 3:27:13 pm
This could be huge: N.Korea Agrees to Nuclear Moratorium, IAEA Inspections.
WASHINGTON, Feb 29 (Reuters) - North Korea agreed on Wednesday to stop nuclear tests, uranium enrichment and long-range missile launches, and to allow checks by nuclear inspectors, in an apparent policy shift that paves the way for resuming long-stalled disarmament talks.
The surprise breakthrough, announced simultaneously by the U.S. State Department and North Korea, also includes U.S. food aid for the impoverished state and makes possible the resumption of six-nation nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang. The news followed bilateral diplomatic talks in Beijing last week.
"These are concrete measures that we consider a positive first step toward complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in a peaceful manner," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Analysts cautioned that Pyongyang had backtracked repeatedly on past deals, but the moves by North Korea mark a sharp change in course, at least outwardly, by North Korea's reclusive leadership after the death in December of veteran leader Kim Jong-il.