NORTH KOREA UPDATE….McClatchy and others report that we’re making some fairly remarkable progress on the North Korea front:

North Korea on Thursday will provide a long-awaited declaration detailing its nuclear weapons programs, a potential breakthrough in a 17-year-long effort to rid the Stalinist state of nuclear arms, U.S. officials said.

North Korea’s tally of its weapons work, which initially will be delivered to China, the chair of the six-nation nuclear talks, will trigger a rapid series of events in the normally slow-moving diplomacy that eventually could lead to the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and the isolated communist nation.

Also on Thursday, President Bush is expected to announce that he intends to remove North Korea from the U.S. government’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism and waive it from the provisions of the Trading With the Enemy Act, which bars almost all commerce.

As early as Friday, North Korea plans to demolish the cooling tower at its Yongbyon nuclear reactor, with the head of the State Department’s Korea desk, Sung Kim, on hand to witness.

In addition, Joe Klein reports that a source tells him “that there will be more encouraging developments from North Korea in the weeks to come.” This progress started in earnest after North Korea’s failed nuclear test in 2006, and I’m still a little mystified about exactly why that triggered it. Presumably the Chinese put their foot down in some way at the same time that Christopher Hill managed to convince George Bush to muzzle the Cheneyite dead-enders and let him engage in serious diplomacy. So far, it seems to be working.