ROME ( – Moments after today’s announcement that North Korea will halt its nuclear program in exchange for 240,000 metric tons of food, Italy agreed to stop operating cruise ships in return for substantial U.S. aid.

While the North Korean nuclear threat is theoretical, the Italian cruise ship danger is "very real," said Secretary of State Clinton.

While both agreements are meant to safeguard lives, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said freezing Italy’s cruise ship program was “absolutely vital” after the Italian-run Costa Allegra was left adrift in the Indian Ocean and the Costa Condcordia ran aground in the Mediterranean.
“The North Korean program is still developmental – they might someday have nuclear weapons; they might someday launch a missile,” Clinton said. “But the Italians have launched two cruise ships in the last month that have killed or injured more than 100 people. And if you look at their passenger list, no one is safe: Americans, Britons, Canadians, Swedes, Chinese, Russians.”
“Make no mistake, the Italian cruise ship threat is very real,” she added. “But thanks to this agreement, the world is a safer place today.”
Under the U.S.-North Korean deal, Pyongyang will place a moratorium on nuclear activities – including long-range missile testing – in exchange for nutritional assistance valued at $150 million. The U.S.-Italian pact, which will cost a similar amount, calls for U.S. transportation safety inspectors to verify and monitor the moratorium on cruise activities and confirm the disablement of any and all Italian-registered vessels. It also requires Italy to sign a CSNPT, or Cruise Ship Non-Proliferation Treaty.
“We, of course, will be watching closely and judging North Korea’s leaders by their actions, and Italy’s cruise ships by their inaction,” said Clinton. “Our hope is that Italy will give up cruise lines altogether and join the international community of passenger-only nations.”
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, however, warned that the agreement does not necessarily put an end to the threat. Both the FBI and CIA will keep an eye out for potential Italian cruise sleeper cells, she said.
“So far these Italian vessels have stayed close to home, but we should remain vigilant,” Napolitano noted. “We don’t want to wake up one day and find an Italian cruise ship in our backyard. And I mean backyard. If it gets close to shore, that’s probably where it will end up.”
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