Back to Nukelessness

It’s a sign of just how awful this administration has been that its North Korea policy is, compared to its dealings with other countries, a success, and yet has resulted in North Korea creating and testing a nuke before starting to move back to where the Clinton administration had them. Those are some low standards. But that being said, this is pretty unmistakably good news:

North Korea will begin disabling key nuclear facilities within weeks and start disclosing details of its nuclear programs under a six-nation agreement to be announced this week, U.S. and Asian diplomats said yesterday.
Success on the deal appears to have been aided by a “side understanding” between Washington and Pyongyang that could accelerate the removal of North Korea from a U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
The United States also appears willing to accept, initially, more limited action to disable three key nuclear facilities at Yongbyon than it originally sought, with the understanding that additional work to incapacitate the facilities would occur later. In exchange, North Korea is expected to disclose the extent of its weapons-grade plutonium, including how much was used in a nuclear test last year.
North Korea also will allow nuclear experts from Russia, China and the United States to examine aluminum tubes procured from Russia that could have been used in a uranium-enrichment program, diplomats said.

Via Kevin Drum. It’s not perfect, of course; it would better if Yongbyon could be dismantled faster, and it’s entirely possible that this will fall through. But still, you have to admire the ability of Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill to transform North Korea from a nuclear power to a non-nuclear state under heavy non-international supervision. And I’m sure that his success had nothing to do with being a career foreign service diplomat and not a Bush political appointee. Nothing at all.

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