The U.S. State Department and North Korea's official news agency have announced that North Korea has agreed to suspend uranium enrichment and implement a moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests.
U.S. officials said the communist-ruled country had also agreed to allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to verify and monitor the moratorium on uranium enrichment and confirm disablement of the nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.
The concession is part of a deal that will send U.S. food-aid shipments to the destitute state, whose longtime supreme leader, Kim Jong Il, died in December 2011. His son, Kim Jong Un, succeeded him.
A U.S. statement said that U.S. and North Korean officials would meet to finalize details of a proposed package of 240,000 tons of food aid. Envoys from the two sides met earlier in February in China's capital, Beijing.
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton broke the news to members of Congress during an appearance before a House committee on foreign spending. She said North Korea had made the decision "to improve the atmosphere for dialogue and demonstrate its commitment to denuclearization."
"The United States, I will be quick to add, still has profound concerns," she said. "But on the occasion of Kim Jong Il's death, I said that it is our hope that the new leadership will choose to guide their nation onto the path of peace by living up to its obligations. Today's announcement represents a modest first step in the right direction."
This isn't the first time North Korea has agreed to halt its nuclear program. On previous occasions, it has thrown out the agreement and demanded more from its negotiating partners.
This time, as well, the statement from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency didn't give a definitive commitment by Pyongyang. It said the county would stick to the agreement "as long as talks proceed fruitfully."
With Reuters, "New York Times," and Korean Central News Agency reporting