The government of North Korea said it will halt its uranium-enrichment program and long-range missile tests in exchange for increased food aid from the United States, according to published reports.
U.S. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland also said that Pyongyang will allow inspectors from the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to monitor and verify compliance with the shutdown of a reactor in the city of Yongbyon.
South Korea's Korea Herald newspaper reported that the United States agreed to send at least 240,000 metric tons of food, with an increased proportion of grain products, to the remote and isolated communist state.
Washington’s senior diplomatic official to North Korea, Glyn Davies, has been engaged in a third round of nuclear talks with North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan in Beijing. The Herald reported that in earlier rounds of the talks, the scale of the food assistance was prominently discussed.
However, Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported that while U.S. officials demanded that North Korea shut down its nuclear program entirely, Pyongyang officials said a complete suspension would be “technically difficult” due to safety reasons and the exorbitant costs related to the potential resumption of nuclear plant operations.
The top U.S. military official in the Asia-Pacific region has previously endorsed the delivery of food to the North in exchange for the country's agreement to cease its uranium-enrichment program and ballistic-missile tests.