One of the thorniest problems bedeviling the US and the world has yielded to a tough and clear-headed strategy implemented by the Bush Administration. Our media, therefore, ignores it as much as possible: North Korea finally folds under the pressure of multi-national negotiations. From the UK Guardian:
North Korea began disabling its nuclear facilities yesterday, marking the biggest step it has ever taken to scale back its atomic programme. The communist North shut down its sole functioning nuclear reactor at Yongbyon in July, and promised to disable it by the year's end in exchange for energy aid and political concessions from other members of talks on its nuclear programme: the US, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia.
A team of American experts has arrived at the Yongbyon reactor and begun the disabling work. A state department spokesman, Tom Casey, said this was "a positive first step in this process, and we hope to see it continue". The South Korean news agency Yonhap quoted unnamed government sources as saying that the disablement includes extracting 8,000 spent fuel rods from the reactor, and will take six weeks. The rods, after a year of reactor operation, could yield enough plutonium to make a nuclear bomb, experts say.
Mr Hill added that the US hoped to disable the North's uranium enrichment programme by December 31, not just its plutonium-production facilities at Yongbyon.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. This is a substantive move. Now that North Korea has begun to see the logic of engagement, a continued application of carrots and sticks is in the cards to keep it honest.