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The year was 1994.

Bill Clinton had just gotten North Korea to sign a “promise” to never develop nuclear weapons again. According to The New York Times, writing in 1994:

President Clinton approved a plan today to arrange more than $4 billion in energy aid to North Korea during the next decade in return for a commitment from the country's hard-line Communist leadership to freeze and gradually dismantle its nuclear weapons development program.

“This agreement will help achieve a longstanding and vital American objective — an end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula,” Mr. Clinton said this afternoon, after his top foreign policy advisers described the details of an enormously complex agreement struck with North Korea late Monday.

The main accomplishment of the agreement is that it commits North Korea to never resuming operations of its five-megawatt nuclear reactor — a source of fuel for its nuclear weapons project — and never to finish construction of two larger reactors, rated at 50 and 200 megawatts, which potentially could produce fuel for hundreds of additional weapons. In time, North Korea is also committed to dismantling the most crucial installation in its nuclear complex: a reprocessing plant that can convert spent nuclear fuel into weapons-grade plutonium.

The heavy oil and the new nuclear reactors are being described by the Administration as compensation for the energy production the North has forgone by shuttering the plants.

What bothers some nuclear experts, from the Pentagon to the International Atomic Energy Agency, is that the North will continue to possess nuclear spent fuel for years, surrendering it only when the new reactors are nearing completion. That leaves open the possibility that if it ever renounced this week's agreement it could eject all international inspectors and resume the bomb project.

According to the New York Times in 2017:

Good job.

Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR