Some key points are:
– In reaching an agreement with the United States, North Korea took a small positive step, but details of and compliance with the latest agreement will be key in determining whether Pyongyang is serious about denuclearization.
– The simultaneously released statements from the United States and North Korea open the door slightly to six-party talks but reflect clear contrasts between each side’s understanding of and assumptions about the latest deal.
– If successfully implemented, the latest agreement could lead to the resumption of six-party talks as early as this summer. But before that can happen, the story will probably involve a series of small steps, perhaps something like these: Robert King, the US Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues, flies to a third country for logistical talks on nutritional assistance this month (perhaps even next week); a couple of months later, the United States sends the first of its 20,000-ton-a-month shipments of nutritional aid; upon receipt, the North begins taking steps to freeze its uranium enrichment activity and works with Washington on the timing of IAEA inspectors’ return to Yongbyon.
– Once all parties sit back down at the six-way bargaining table, a long and tough road awaits: verifying past reactor-disablement measures and uranium-enrichment activities, dealing with non-nuclear issues of mutual concern, and eventually wading into uncharted waters for even farther-reaching commitments that lead to the final dismantlement phase agreed upon in past six-party accords.
– The dilemma Washington and Seoul now face is how demanding or how flexible they should be in their attempts to bring Pyongyang back to the six-way dialogue table during an election year.