IN OTHER WORDS: Not enough

North Korea’s decision to shut down its plutonium-producing reactor and admit international inspectors was only the first of several steps it needs to take under the deal it made with the US and five other countries in February. These two steps are also important in themselves, since they freeze North Korea’s production of the plutonium it could use to build more bombs for itself or help another nation or terrorist group achieve nuclear weapons status.

The next steps North Korea needs to take include permanently disabling the plutonium reactor and providing a complete inventory of all its remaining nuclear weapons. The February agreement also commits North Korea to eventually eliminate those nuclear assets, but a timetable for doing that still has not been negotiated. Those commitments go well beyond the requirement of the 1994 deal which froze plutonium production at the reactor and admitted inspectors from the IAEA. But the Bush administration walked away from Clinton’s deal in 2002, with sensational charges that North Korea was pursuing a secret bomb-making programme based on uranium. The ground lost over the intervening years has now been largely recovered, except, of course for the six bombs’ worth of nuclear fuel Pyongyang produced while Washington strutted and postured.