Welcoming the progress, President Barack Obama’s administration said it would move ahead on a long-mulled plan to deliver 240,000 metric tons of food aid to the impoverished state which suffered a major famine in the 1990s.

But the agreement, reached after talks last week in Beijing, is certain to be met with skepticism in many quarters as North Korea has repeatedly agreed to end its nuclear program only to renounce agreements when tensions rise…

The agreement came despite initial US doubts that North Korea would take major decisions after the death in December of veteran leader Kim Jong-Il, which put control of the authoritarian state in the hands of untested young son Kim Jong-Un.