Breaking: U.S. reaches nuke deal with North Korea?

Like Truthout on the Rove indictment, Chosun Ilbo was way out in front of the news cycle.

“A breakthrough is not in sight,” South Korea’s negotiator said yesterday with talks on the verge of collapse. And now:

The U.S. envoy to talks on North Korea’s nuclear program said Tuesday that a tentative agreement had been reached on initial moves for the communist nation’s disarmament. “I’m encouraged by this that we were able to take a step forward on the denuclearization issue,” Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said.

He declined to give details of the draft, but said it outlined specific commitments for Pyongyang and would set up working groups to implement those goals to begin meeting in about a month.

The Times claimed yesterday to have seen a version of the draft. Quote:

Meanwhile, a summary of the proposed agreement being circulated among senior policy makers in Washington makes it clear that even if the North agreed to take the listed first steps — sealing its main nuclear reactor and inviting international inspectors back into the country — it would not be required to turn over any nuclear weapons or weapons fuel that it has produced in recent years for an unspecified period of time, and then only after reaching another agreement.

In essence, the agreement Hill, an assistant secretary of state, is negotiating could prevent the North from producing more weapons, but defers discussions over the weapons and fuel it has stockpiled…

Kyodo, the Japanese news agency, has reported that North Korea wants an annual energy package of two million tons of fuel oil and two million kilowatts of electricity for taking the first steps in the agreement. It quoted unidentifed diplomatic sources who said the North also wanted a short-term infusion of hundreds of thousands of tons of fuel oil almost immediately. That presumably would be a reward for shutting down Yongbyon, even though Yongbyon does not provide electric energy to the country.

I think Bush just wants this off the table so he can focus (even more) exclusively on the Middle East. There’s nothing we can do militarily and there’s at least a small chance they might hold up their end of the bargain. Besides, a show of good faith towards the NorKs with the deadline approaching for Iran to stop enriching uranium will turn up the domestic pressure on Khamenei to make a deal.

This is the global equivalent of a hostage negotiation, with Kim implicitly threatening to kill Koreans on both sides of the border if we don’t give him what he wants. So … we’re giving him what he wants. No other options at this point, really.

Exit question: Is it time for Zucker to update the ad?