According to this report that came over the wire a few hours ago, US Envoy Christopher Hill has successfully negotiated a deal in which North Korea will shut down its reactor in Yongbyon (the heart of the nuclear arms development program).
At the crux of the deal lay $25 million in assets frozen in Macao. The US had asked Russia to freeze the funds some years ago, but reports indicate that the money has been transferred to a North Korea bank account in Russia. The US also provided North Korea with some energy security.
The IAEA is due in North Korea next week to begin the disarmorment process and the six-party talks are due to recommence in the near future.
With a (potentially) meaningful resolution of the nuclear issue, the six-party talks hold much more promise for progress. Like all dealings with North Korea, I believe the North's cooperation is contingent upon the US' faithfulness to the agreement as well as the spirit of the agreement.
The nuclear/missiles crisis brings to light an interesting conundrum: The DPRK existence is predicated on the US (and Japan) as a perpetual hostile enemy. With the US making compromises and assurances for North Korean energy and practical security the US is acting more like an honest peace broker rather than a belligerent. In fact, the peace talks demonstrate that the US, ROK, and Japan are not looking to undermine the regime. With the undoing of one of the essential underpinnings of the North, how does the North legitimize itself? I say, it has to hold onto the past and anachronistic views of the US and Japan for its ideology to make sense.