The Obama administration’s direct talks strategy is a risky one. North Korea has long wanted to engage the U.S. in direct and wide-ranging talks over its nuclear ambitions while the U.S. insisted any one-to-one contact would be focused on pushing Pyongyang back into multilateral negotiations over its atomic projects.
The regime has also long proven itself to be an unreliable partner, reneging on deals during the previous two administrations of George W Bush and Bill Clinton.
North Korea agreed in September 2005 to abandon its nuclear programs in an aid-for-disarmament agreement hammered out among the six parties. But it has twice since tested an atomic device - most recently in May - and also gone back on promises to dismantle nuclear facilities.
The announcement is a sign of Washington's concern that it North Korea is pressing ahead with its nuclear program while refusing to return to the negotiating table. Hopefully the U.S. gamble will pay off.