[JURIST] North Korea [JURIST news archive] agreed Tuesday that it would end its nuclear weapons program in exchange for aid as part of a multi-stage initiative with partners in the so-called Six-Party Talks [US State Dept. briefing; Wikipedia backgrounder]. In the initial stage, North Korea promised to shut down and seal its main nuclear reactor and in exchange for 50,000 tons of heavy fuel. North Korea will eventually receive an additional 950,000 tons in aid if it declares all of its nuclear programs and irreversibly disables the main reactor. The country was sanctioned [JURIST report] by the UN Security Council [official website] last October after it exploded several test nuclear weapons underground [JURIST report]. John Bolton [JURIST news archive], former US Ambassador to the UN, has voiced strong opposition to the agreement and encouraged President Bush to reject it, contending that it sends a dangerous message to countries pursuing nuclear weapons that if they just hold out long enough, they will get "rewarded" for ending their programs.
After main reactor shutdown is confirmed by international inspectors, the foreign ministers of the six nations [JURIST report] – North Korea, South Korea, US, Russia, Japan, and China – will meet again to talk about normalizing US relations with North Korea, relations between Japan and North Korea [JURIST news archive], peace and security in northeast Asia, energy and the economy, and the status of the country's denuclearization. An interim meeting has been called for March 19 to assess North Korea's progress in disabling the main reactor. AP has more.