Tuesday, 13 February 2007

The grain of salt nuke deal

There have been more developments in the North Korean nuclear program story. Following reports of successful talks between N Korea and the West — with N Korea's goal being incentives and political leverage and the West's goal being to stop N Korea's nuclear weapons program — there are signs of hope, though that hope is taken with a grain of salt.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice seems pleased with the deal, as was President Bush (also "pleased"), though US Ambassador John Bolton was not. I guess he would rather the US nuke N Korea or something like that. Rice also indicated the deal should send a message to Iran over its nuclear program that the West is willing to deal; Iran certainly already knows that. Rice has shown worry that Iran would follow North Korea's defiant footsteps in the past.

One aspect of this deal is actually a breakthrough: the ability of North Korea and the United States to potentially lessen the hostility felt mutually between them. I agree with the International Crisis Group's Peter Beck in that, "After years of mistakes the United States has decided to stop digging a hole for itself". In the days of President Clinton the US worked on making progress with N Korean relations. However, since Bush took the helm, North Korea has been ignored and the policy has led to more aggressiveness from the North Koreans, including their excuse for making nuclear weapons: the US's unchecked aggression. For all Clinton's faults, at least he did not make an "axis of evil" (Wikipedia), list already unfriendly nations on it without a real argument for doing so, imply they are all working together in an evil way, and thus making those countries even more peeved at the US — and increasing provocation and response.

Bush has been heavily criticized for his nuclear diplomacy, whether it be hostile in re to weapons with Iran or N Korea, or friendly but still proliferating like with India. His cowboy style has dominated his failed foreign policy, but the White House seems to have finally caught a break. I wonder which parties had took the most initiatives in these talks. Often, in the case of both Iran and N Korea, two-way talks are wanted from the non-US side, though, ironically of the US because of its often unilateral approach, those calls for direct talks are turned down.

So is it the end of the secret state of North Korea's nuclear program?, you may ask. Probably not. It is only the main reactor being closed as a result of this deal, who knows what other technology they have, and they're not too trustworthy.

CFR has a good interactive guide to the Korean peninsula crisis. It offers much needed background on how North and South Korea got to where they are today, and more.

Many pundits and analysts say the US should push for full dismantlement of the N Korea's nukes; some state the state is too closed and rogue to trust, and that makes dismantlement and enforcement of any deals made all the more harder.

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