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North Korea nuclear moratorium: Will it last?

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the US “still has profound concerns” about the North Korea nuclear moratorium, even as it considers the agreement “a step in the right direction.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton calls North Korea's agreement to suspend nuclear activities and accept a moratorium on testing "a modest step" in the right direction, as she testified on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, before the House State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs subcommittee.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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North Korea’s surprise agreement to suspend uranium enrichment and missile testing in exchange for US food aid relieves tensions in one of the world’s toughest security crises.

But officials and experts are cautioning that some easily reversible concessions, no matter how extensive, do not necessarily a lasting deal make – especially when it comes to North Korea.

The steps announced by the North Korean government and the State Department Wednesday “could indeed be an initial step on a path towards serious negotiations ... or they could simply be a ploy to get nutritional assistance and meddle in South Korean politics,” says Richard Bush, director of the Brookings Institution’s Center on North East Asia Policy Studies in Washington. “North Korea’s record suggests the latter.”

Commenting on the agreement at a House Appropriations Committee hearing Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the US “still has profound concerns” even as it considers the agreed measures “a step in the right direction.”

The US will watch and judge the North Korean leadership by its actions, she added.

The steps announced Wednesday were the result of two days of US-North Korea talks in Beijing last week. US officials initially played down expectations of progress, but now say it was the US offer to resume humanitarian aid – specifically food shipments – that appears to have swayed Pyongyang.


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