financial cooperation. International financial institutions will offer North Korea financial aid, foreign enterprises will increase their exports and investment, North Korean assets in the United States will be unfrozen, and limitations on North Korean products entering the U.S. market will be abolished. All these will benefit North Korea's economic development.
Professor Zhu Feng from the School of International Studies at Peking University said it was compromise that finally enabled the two sides to reach consensus. "The other countries in the six-party talks also played important roles in this achievement," he said, and the recent consensus was crucial for maintaining dialogue between North Korea and the United States.
Zhu explained that although Washington insisted on validation, it made some concessions in areas that Pyongyang considers sensitive. If North Korea had refused validation, the six-party talks would have remained paralyzed and North Korea would have remained cut off from international aid.
Zhu said the consensus would also benefit the United States, as it prepares for a new presidential administration. "It will guarantee that the next U.S. Government continues to engage in dialogue with North Korea under the framework of the six-party talks."
More efforts required
Observers also considered North Korea's reaction a positive sign. It showed that North Korea's non-proliferation stance has not changed and that the denuclearization process would move forward, said a report in Beijing Youth Daily on October 13. But experts also stressed that more efforts are needed to realize the final goal.
The second-phase actions are an action-for-action process. "The U.S. decision to remove North Korea from the list was only intended to implement the second-phase actions and break the stalemate," Xu said, pointing out that the agreement could still be derailed. For example, the nuclear disablement might not meet validation standards, the United States might not provide enough economic compensation, or Washington might find an excuse to put North Korea back on the blacklist. Any misstep in the process could endanger the agreement's implementation, Xu concluded.
The Beijing Youth Daily article said that uncertainties still remain because of the half century of animosity between North Korea and the United States.
It had taken a long time and many rounds of negotiation, which produced few results until the fifth round in 2007, said the newspaper, "Facts prove that North Korea will not make rash compromises on issues concerning its security and sovereignty."
The North Korean Foreign Ministry stressed on October 12 that how Pyongyang carries out the October 3, 2007 agreement would depend on whether the U.S. implements the blacklist removal and fulfills its economic promises.
"Besides, we must notice that even with the disablement crisis resolved, the overall denuclearization process currently lags far behind schedule," said Beijing Youth Daily. All parties concerned must work harder to implement the second-phase actions as soon as possible, so as to realize denuclearization on the Korean Peninsular, the newspaper added.
Zhang Liangui, an expert on North Korean studies at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, agreed that validation is key to nuclear disablement. The six countries are expected to meet again soon to discuss the method and standard of validation.
In addition, he said that the related parties should figure out how to improve the structure of the six-party talks and set up a corresponding mechanism to ensure that no country can go back on its word after making a promise.