Nations Reach Tentative Deal on North Korea Weapons

The U.S. envoy to the Beijing talks announced the pact, but cautioned it must be approved by the governments of the countries represented in the six-party talks.

Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill told reporters the agreement outlined specific commitments for North Korea and that working groups to bring about these goals would begin meeting in about a month. He declined to give other details.

“There was an agreement on the key differences of North Korea’s actions for denuclearization, their scope and how far they’ll go, and the other countries’ corresponding measures and the scale of assistance,” South Korean envoy Chun Yung-woo told reporters, according to Reuters.

“North Korea basically agreed to all of the measures in the draft.”

If the agreement wins approval from top officials in the governments, the move would mark the first step toward disarmament since North Korea set off an international outcry in October when it conducted its first nuclear test explosion.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said that “positive results have been achieved,” but that the talks would continue again later in the day.

Japan’s chief delegate, Kenichiro Sasae, said it was “too early to tell” if his government would be satisfied with the deal but that the countries have “compromised somewhat” toward an agreement.

The talks began Thursday with representatives from North and South Korea, the United States, Russia, Japan and China. But they were quickly stalled over the issue of how much energy aid North Korea would receive in exchange for initial steps toward disarmament.

South Korean and Japanese media outlets attached varying numbers to North Korea’s demands, including up to 2 million kilowatts of electricity or 2 million tons of heavy fuel oil, according to the Associated Press.

In September 2005, Pyongyang agreed to a joint statement outlining disarmament steps that North Korea needed to take to ensure fuel and economic aid, as well as political ties with the United States. The United States accused the country of counterfeiting U.S. currency and other illicit activities, which prompted Pyongyang to boycott the talks until international condemnation of its October nuclear test drew it back to the negotiating table.