North Korea agreed on Feb. 13 to shut down its main nuclear reactor and eventually dismantle its atomic weapons program just four months after it tested a nuclear bomb.

The deal marks the first concrete plan for disarmament in more than three years of Chinese-hosted six-nation negotiations.

“Obviously, we have a long way to go, but we’re very pleased with this agreement,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill. “It’s a very solid step forward.”

Under the deal, the North would receive initial aid equal to 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil for shutting down and sealing its main nuclear reactor and related facilities at Yongbyon within 60 days, to be confirmed by international inspectors. It will also receive food aid. For irreversibly disabling the reactor and declaring all nuclear programs, the North will eventually receive another 950,000 tons in aid.

“This round of six-party talks marks an important and substantial step forward,” Chinese envoy Wu Dawei said. Under the agreement, North Korea and the United States will embark on talks aimed at resolving disputes and restarting diplomatic relations, he said.

Hill said that the North Koreans had insisted that the specific amount of aid be spelled out during the talks, not left to a later working group, as the U.S. had wanted. In return, he said, the negotiators had also begun discussing disabling the North’s program so that they could not be easily restarted.

According to the agreement, Washington will also begin the process of ending its designation of North Korea as a terrorism-sponsoring state and lifting U.S. trade sanctions, but no deadlines have been set.

— Morning Star