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North Korea has recently struck a deal with the United States to denuclearize their state in exchange for food. The deal was decided and agreed upon in Beijing last week but made public only yesterday.
Under its terms, North Korea will halt uranium enrichment and long-range missile tests and also let overseers screen the state’s main Yongbyon nuclear complex. Not all nuclear devices have been deactivated, however, as the short-range No Dong missiles that pose a threat and hazard to South Korea and Japan were not incorporated into the deal.
Also under this agreement, the US will give North Korea 240,000 tonnes of food to a drained population. Many analysts have speculated that this food is primarily to help ease the diplomatic relations between the two countries, and have said that the food is the least significant part of the deal. North Korea, however, has recently experienced the most frigid winter it has dealt with in 65 years which resulted in a depletion of much of the country’s food supply, and the food comes as a great relief to the nation.
The deal comes as a step towards reconciliation between North Korea and the US. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, however, understated the agreement’s power and meaning, calling it a “modest first step.” She went on to say that Washington still has apprehensions towards North Korea, especially when considering its past actions.
The agreement had been in the works for a while, before last year being put to a grinding halt by Kim Jong-Il’s death. And just two months into his successors reign, the deal has already been deemed acceptable by North Korea.
Some political analysts, like Narushige Michishita, an associate professor at Tokyo’s National Graduate Institute of Policy Studies who has been watching North Korea for some time now, think this deal will give Obama a strategic edge in the coming election. The uranium enrichment program would have created the fuel required for one to two nuclear warheads each year if not kept under a close eye. The breakthrough definitely gives Obama the upper hand when it comes to foreign policy, and may perhaps prove to be what clinches this next election.
North Korea’s plutonium program, originally supposed to be ended with the uranium program, was not included in North Korea’s announcement earlier. Though there is thought to be enough to make a handful of warheads, it is of less importance than the uranium program.
Many consider the deal a bigger step than the last one from 1999. As of this time, though, just where this deal will lead North Korea, and Obama, remains unclear.