N. Korea offers No Retaliation For Drill, Agrees To Measures


North Korea did not retaliate as threatened Monday after a South Korean military exercise that it had warned could lead to war.

At the same time, the North agreed to allow U.N. monitors access to its uranium-enrichment facility and take other steps that could defuse tension if implemented, including considering the formation of a military commission made up of representatives from the North, the South and the United States.

Those steps generated at least the possibility of rare optimism on the Korean peninsula, which has been gripped by anxiety since the sinking of a South Korean warship killed 46 sailors in March. Tensions rose higher last month, when North Korea shelled a South Korean island, killing four people.

The latest developments came amid a visit to North Korea by Bill Richardson, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and current governor of New Mexico.

"Maybe we had a little impact with them," he

In advance of South Korea's live-fire naval drill, North Korea had warned that the action could ignite a war and threatened to respond militarily.

The exercise ended peacefully, however, after an hour and 34 minutes. North Korean military leaders said retaliation wasn't necessary but issued a stern warning to South Korea and the United States, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

Yet Richardson said the North also has agreed to allow monitors from the International Atomic Energy Agency access to the nation's uranium-enrichment facility and to negotiate a deal for a third party, such as South Korea, to buy fresh-fuel rods from North Korea.