Cal  Thomas

Phase two leads to the disablement of North Korean nuclear facilities, which, says Crouch, goes beyond anything envisioned during the Clinton administration. The benefit of disablement, he says, is that "it would take them a lot of time and cost them a lot of money to bring those facilities back to where they would be useful again."

As part of the agreement, North Korea is also required to account for all nuclear weapons, which they must dismantle, and take inventory of its plutonium stockpile, which is something else the Clinton administration was unable to achieve.

Incentives for North Korea to live up to its promises include: refusal by the co-signing nations to deliver the promised energy, if there is no compliance, keeping the U.N. sanctions in place until there is full compliance and the continued use of financial levers that have prompted the Treasury Department to pressure governments not to do business with North Korea, pressure that has apparently worked, says Crouch.

Much remains to be worked out in the various "working groups" before this deal is final, but the Bush administration is guardedly optimistic that the conditions point to a greater likelihood of compliance by North Korea than with previous agreements, which were being violated even as they were written.

John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is skeptical about the agreement. He told Bill Gertz of The Washington Times that the deal rewards "bad behavior" by North Korea and sends a "bad signal" to Iran.

Bolton could be right, but if the agreement works, the threat from a major player in "the axis of evil" will have been substantially reduced. In an increasingly troubled and chaotic world, that is one blessing for which everyone will be grateful.

Cal Thomas

Get Cal Thomas' new book, What Works, at Amazon.

Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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