The State Department said today that North Korea has agreed to allow the return of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and made other concessions to pave the way for new nuclear negotiations.
The bilateral “exploratory” talks between Washington and Pyongyang happened Feb. 23-24 in Beijing.
“To improve the atmosphere for dialogue and demonstrate its commitment to denuclearization, the DPRK has agreed to implement a moratorium on long-range missile launches, nuclear tests and nuclear activities at Yongbyon, including uranium enrichment activities,” State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said.
“The United States still has profound concerns regarding North Korean behavior across a wide range of areas, but today’s announcement reflects important, if limited, progress in addressing some of these,” she added.
Despite those concerns, the U.S. is moving forward with food aid.
“We have agreed to meet with the DPRK to finalize administrative details necessary to move forward with our proposed package of 240,000 metric tons of nutritional assistance along with the intensive monitoring required for the delivery of such assistance,” Nuland said.
She said the U.S. stressed it has no hostile intentions toward North Korea, and “is prepared to take steps to increase people-to-people exchanges, including in the areas of culture, education, and sports.”
From the North Korean side, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted a statement on the Korean Central News Agency website.
It largely mirrored the State Department release, save for some politburo-friendly language tweaks such as saying the U.S. “no longer” has hostile intent toward the country.
Pyongyang also noted that it expects more food assistance after the initial delivery.
“Once the six-party talks are resumed, priority will be given to the discussion of issues concerning the lifting of sanctions on the DPRK and provision of light water reactors,” the ministry said.
On the same day, KCNA published a same-old-Pyongyang statement against military exercises of “the U.S. imperialist aggressors and south Korean puppet warmongers,” which began Monday.
“This saber-rattling clearly shows that the U.S. imperialists and the south Korean authorities are ferocious warmongers who stoop to anything to achieve their ulterior goal of aggression no matter how the situation develops and no matter what public opinion at home and abroad demands,” the statement read. “…This saber-rattling is particularly dangerous as they are kicking up an anti-DPRK smear campaign and intensifying their moves to escalate the confrontation on an unprecedented scale and making desperate efforts to seek a way out of a serious ruling crisis.”
North Korea has warned that a “sacred war” will ensue if the exercises broach upon its territory.