NORTH KOREA BLINKS?….This is via email, but there ought to be a link soon:

BEIJING (AP) – North Korea pledged to drop its nuclear weapons development and rejoin international arms treaties in a unanimous agreement Monday with other countries at arms talks, in the first-ever joint statement after more than two years of negotiations.

The North “promised to drop all nuclear weapons and current nuclear programs and to get back to the (Nuclear) Nonproliferation Treaty as soon as possible and to accept inspections” by the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to the agreement by the six countries at the talks.

“All six parties emphasized that to realize the inspectable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the target of the six-party talks,” the statement said.

The North and United States also pledged in the agreement to respect each other’s sovereignty and right to peaceful coexistence.

“This is the most important result since the six-party talks started more than two years ago,” said Wu Dawei, China’s vice foreign minister.

Damn. I want to hear more about what North Korea actually agreed to, and I also want to hear more about what the United States agreed to. Is this a genuine agreement, or merely an agreement about what the “target” of the talks is?

If this is on the level, it’s great news. It would also be a terrific accomplishment for the Bush administration. They could use one.

UPDATE: Link to a more detailed version of the AP dispatch is here. It adds that “The United States affirmed that it has no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula and has no intention to attack or invade (North Korea) with nuclear or conventional weapons,” something the U.S. has been unwilling to promise in the past. It also indicates that there are still some unresolved issues.

Still, it sounds like good news.

UPDATE 2: From an unnamed diplomat: “The only problem is all this is an agreement. And that’s a very good step but at the same time, we’ve had agreements before and it’s not always gone forward. It’s working out the details. It’s one thing saying ‘yes, we’ll agree to this’ but I’m sure there will be an awful lot of wrangling still.”

Cautious optimism seems to be the general reaction. But why did the U.S. finally accede to a nonagression promise? We’ve never been willing to agree to that before.

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