The diplomatic team of the Bush administration helped alleviate one of a number of worries Americans everywhere have been holding since 9/11: That terrorists or other governments unfriendly to the United States would acquire nuclear weapons.

In what can be considered a significant diplomatic success for the Bush administration, North Korea agreed in principle on Monday to stop its nuclear weapons program and give up all nuclear materials.

In exchange, the U.S. agreed, again in principle, to provide more economic aid, and help North Korea develop a civilian nuclear power plant.

There remain sticking points. The U.S. wants to only help with the power plant after evidence that North Korean has dismantled all of its nuclear facilities and allowed stringent international inspections. North Korea, in effect, said we were dreaming if we want it to dismantle its nuclear facilities before it gets help on nuclear power.

Still this is progress. It shows that the multi-country negotiation worked with China, Russia, South Korea and Japan working to put pressure on North Korea as the country not complying with earlier nonproliferation agreements signed during the Clinton administration.

The agreement showed that diplomacy can work to resolve world conflicts. The U.S. worked, mainly with China, on forging the deal. And it actually came down to China turning the screws a bit on the Bush administration to accept the deal or accept responsibility for the deal breaking down, according to senior American officials quoted by The New York Times.

China, which provides North Korea with oil and food, also had pressured North Korea into signing the deal.

Several officials from various countries involved in the talks have suggested the Bush administration acquiesced because the president is simply too tied up to deal with another volatile international conflict given the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina and an evolving stalemate with Iran over its nuclear capability.

Whatever, the reason, the result was a positive one. It’s worth noting that the North Korean result did not evolve from a “bring it on” mentality. It evolved from serious discussions and solid negotiation on the part of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her diplomatic team.

It also shows that there may be a growing realization in the Bush administration that diplomacy and working with our allies can work and can create peace more easily than threats.

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