North Korea has agreed to provide a full accounting of its nuclear facilities and disable its nuclear facilities by the end of the year, and it did so in remarkably unequivocal language:
“We made it clear, we showed clear willingness to declare and dismantle all nuclear facilities,” Kim Gye Gwan, the head of the North Korean delegation told the Associated Press.
If so, it is a remarkable victory for Bush administration diplomacy. The deal comes with a price, of course. North Korea is expecting ample “political and economic considerations,” in Kim’s words, and down the road U.S. diplomatic recognition and the trade benefits from being removed from the U.S. list of states sponsoring terrorism.
There are still months of painstaking diplomacy ahead to confirm that North Korea is complying. The agreement also could have a salutary effect on Iran, another nation balking at international efforts to persuade it to abandon a nuclear weapons program.
A final caveat: We have climbed this mountain before with North Korea only to have to retreat. While we hope for the best, we’ll believe it when we see it.