(SEOUL, South Korea) — American and South Korean experts are cautious about a deal in which North Korea agreed to suspend much of its nuclear program and allow international inspectors to monitor its plants in exchange for a massive shipment of U.S. food.
The experts were also trying to gauge whether the decision by North Korea was made by its young new leader Kim Jong Un or a committee of top officials.
“We’ve been down this road before,” said said Lee Jung-Hoon, professor of International Relations at Yonsei University. “They will get food now, but there could be many excuses on what they not consider a productive dialogue and before actually letting those inspectors to set foot in Pyongyang.”
The regime’s decision is “reversible” because North Korea could “flip a switch and go in a different direction,” noted a U.S. official who spoke to ABC News on the condition of anonymity.
North Korea has previously made deals with Washington concerning its nuclear program only to discard them later.
The elements in the deal are also not viewed as a significant leap towards North Korea’s nuclear disarmament, but are seen as ”positive” and “modest steps” that could “unlock the door to the resumption eventually of six-party talks,” a senior U.S. administration official told ABC News. The official added that he did not want to “oversell” Wednesday’s announcement.
The announcement says that Pyongyang will suspend uranium enrichment and impose a moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests, “with a view to maintaining positive atmosphere.”
Pyongyang in Wednesday’s statement said that it will allow the International Atomic Energy Administration to monitor the moratorium on uranium enrichment activity at Yongbyon “while productive dialogues continue.”
That phrase, experts in Seoul say, is the usual North Korean tactic to leave room to back off.
Few details were released on the deal because both sides have much to work out and some will take time to go into effect, but it is designed to serve as a “good gauge” in demonstrating how serious North Korea is about resuming the Six Party Talks.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Kareem Khadder, CNN
Lorenzo D'Agostino and Hilary Clarke, CNN
Barbie Latza Nadeau, Tim Hume and Vasco Cotovio, CNN
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News