Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said North Korea's agreement to halt its nuclear tests and uranium enrichment program at its main facility a "modest first step" in the right direction.
In exchange for larger grain proportions in the 240,000 tons of nutritional assistance the U.S. is sending, the State Department announced Wednesday that North Korea will shut down its uranium enrichment facilities and implement a moratorium on long-range missile tests. North Korea also agreed to allow International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors into the country to verify and monitory activities.
The announcement, which follows a third round of talks between U.S. and North Korea, may signal a breakthrough in relations between the two countries, following the death of North Korea's late leader, Kim Jong-il late last year. His son, Kim Jong-un, took power following his father's death.
"The United States, I will be quick to to add, still has profound concerns," Clinton told the House Appropriations subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations on Wednesday. "But on the occasion of Kim Jong-il’s death, I said it was our hope that the new leadership will choose to guide their nation on the path to peace by living up to its obligations. Today’s announcement represents a modest first step in the right direction."
The U.S. will be watching closely to judge Pyongyang by its actions, Clinton said. The U.S. will meet with the North Koreans to finalize the administrative details necessary to move forward with the proposed package of nutritional assistance, along with the intensive monitoring required for such assistance.
"This is just one more reminder that the world is transforming around us. From Arab revolutions to the rise of new economic powers to a more dispersed but still dangerous al-Qaida terrorist network to nuclear diplomacy on the Korean peninsula," Clinton said. "In this time, only the United States of America has the reach, the resources and relationships to anchor a more peaceful and prosperous world."
Subcommittee chairwoman Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, said the possibility of a moratorium was very significant. "Congratulations," she told Clinton.