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North Korea nuclear moratorium: Will it last?

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The State Department says the US, under the agreement, will proceed with delivery of 240,000 metric tons of food assistance, with more possible if the need in the chronically underfed nation persists.

For its part, the North agreed to once again allow inspectors from the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to monitor activity at its Yongbyon nuclear complex and verify that it is honoring the enrichment moratorium.

The US and North Korea statements did not say when IAEA inspections would begin.

The agreement also calls for resumption of the long-stalled six-party talks – involving the two Koreas, the US, China, Russia, and Japan – but the announcements gave no date for a new round of negotiations.

And even as positive as a return to talks would be – to start with, it would suggest a reduction in North Korea-South Korea tensions from a level that in 2010 threatened an outbreak of war – many analysts say just talks for talks’ sake won’t be enough.

Noting that with North Korea “the devil is always in the details,” the Heritage Foundation’s North Asia expert Bruce Klingner says that “resumption of six-party talks would not be a victory in itself but instead simply the beginning of long, arduous negotiations – the diplomatic equivalent of putting two weary boxers back in the ring in round two of a 15-round bout.”

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