North Korea agrees to de-nuke

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: North Korea has agreed to shut down its main nuclear reactor and eventually dismantle its atomic weapons program. This deal is the first concrete plan for disarmament in more than three years of six-nation negotiations. Scott Tong is our Shanghai Bureau Chief. Scott why did North Korea agree to these things now?

SCOTT TONG: Well, if you talk to North Korea-watchers, a few things have happened lately. One is North Korea obviously exploded its nuclear device and so they are to some degree part of the nuclear club and that has brought everyone urgently to the table. Another reason is, economically North Korea has just been in a slow-motion crisis and they've needed energy, they've needed especially oil and electricity just to keep their economy going. And the third thing that's happened is the United States has placed some banking sanctions against North Korean leaders.

THOMAS: Well what kind of impact did the sanctions have?

TONG: Well the sanctions took $24 million in assets and it froze them. And the North Korean leaders didn't have access to that money and what happened in the last couple weeks is the United States came to them and said, 'you know we think maybe half of that may be what we consider "clean money" so if you come to the table we might be able to announce that some of those assets can be returned for your use.

THOMAS: Thanks Scott.

TONG: Alright, cool.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.

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