North Korea has vowed to disable much of its controversial nuclear program following intense diplomatic work over the past few months.
North Korea has agreed to declare all its nuclear programmes and disable its main atomic reactor by the end of the year under US supervision, according to a six-nation agreement released Wednesday.
The deal -- the second phase of a long-running process aimed at ending the North's atomic weapons drive -- was immediately welcomed by US President George W. Bush, as well as other six-party participants Japan and South Korea.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who is South Korean, also welcomed the move and appealed to all the parties concerned "to step up their work for denuclearisation".
The United States recently pledged millions in food aid to the country, and last summer a main nuclear reactor was shut down, albeit not permanently. However, as we are dealing with often-deceptive North Korea, it's important not to become too happy about this perceived progress until the 'denuclearisation' is indeed accomplished. Diplomacy looks to be on the right track with North Korea, with even the US helping it along.
Even though skepticism should not be ceased at North Korea's motives, this latest move is one of great importance. Not only has North Korea made progress, but so have China and America, who have both learnt valuable lessons from this very long N Korea nuclear series. While it is not over yet, it is remarkable how progress was made so fast, and how far we are from one year ago. The most important thing in diplomacy, besides being open, diplomatic, and fair, is persistence. The New York Times praised the six-party diplomacy that resulted in the North Korean deal in an editorial today.
From the beginning, the North Koreans wanted two things from their nuclear program: not weapons to threaten the world or for power purposes, but money and financial incentives and leverage for getting those kinds of gains. Iran will want at least just as sweet a deal. Given its meddling in other foreign affairs, it will want to grandstand for as long as possible before it level-headidly sits down to the negotiating table. Oddly enough, the US will do roughly the same thing. But instead of painting itself as the best as Iran does, it will try to paint Iran in a negative light, and sound objective doing so (something which the Iranian hard-liners cannot do well).
However, people are wondering whether the same slow diplomacy that worked with North Korea will work with Iran in solving its nuclear weapons dispute. Still, a majority of experts believe that North Korea with nukes is far more dangerous than Iran, given its great poverty and lack of economic wealth (whereas Iran has oil); in addition, its regime is even more rogue and might be more open with giving nuclear information and technology to terrorists than even the notoriously terrorist-supporting Iran. North Korea is also far more advanced in its nuclear development than Iran.
The Korean peninsula was also in the news due to a much-awaited meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea. The meeting resulted in an agreement of mutual peace and cooperation today, which is probably more than most analysts were expecting (many viewed the meeting to be purely symbolic and more of a help to North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-il than South Korea's president Roh Moo-hyun).
A year ago North Korea was acting as rebellious and dangerous as ever, testing missiles and touting its nukes. Today, the situation has changed dramatically. China's use of influence and America's new-found diplomatic openness contributed to the successes of today. But the nuclear game with North Korea is not over yet.