Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

N. Korea Drops Its Secrecy

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

N. Korea Drops Its Secrecy

Article excerpt

The United States and North Korea signed a pact Friday intended to end the long-running war of nerves over the communist state's nuclear program.

North Korea pledged to drop the secrecy surrounding its nuclear facilities to clear up suspicions about nuclear bomb-making potential. In return, it got pledges for modern nuclear plants worth billions of dollars and diplomatic respectability after more than 40 years of isolation.

"We believe that this agreed framework is a very important milestone . . . of historic importance," said North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok Ju.

Robert L. Gallucci, chief U.S. negotiator, gave a more sober assessment of the deal, which in practical terms gives North Korea about five years before it will have to open two suspected nuclear sites to outside inspections.

"We left each other with the thought that we have a long road ahead of us," said Gallucci, an assistant secretary of state. But he said the deal prevented North Korea from developing future bombs, and the worst-case scenario - that of U.N. sanctions against Korea and possible military confrontation - had been avoided.

In a sign of easing tensions, the United States and South Korea announced they would cancel annual joint military exercises planned for next month. The United States will maintain its forces of about 36,000 troops stationed in South Korea. U.S. units have been stationed there since the 1950-53 Korean war.

South Korea and Japan praised the deal. But they were cautious about North Korea keeping its word.

The accord, signed at a brief ceremony at North Korea's lakeside diplomatic mission, commits the North to freezing all current nuclear activities and allowing inspections of its declared nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency, a United Nations agency.

North Korea also promised to uphold its obligations under the Nuclear-Non Proliferation Treaty, which bans the spread of nuclear weapons, and committed itself to dialogue with South Korea to ease tensions on the divided peninsula.

In return, the United States agreed to set up a diplomatic liaison office in Pyongyang and promised to ease restrictions on trade and investment within three months. …

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