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Friday, February 11, 2005

Nuke Blackmail: North Korea demands bi-lateral talks with US

The DPRK drops the other shoe in its latest blackmail attempt
demands bilateral talks


Update: North Korea Zone's Rebecca MacKinnon provides thoughts on "What's Going On?"
Pyongyang must have realized that it was going to face a less friendly and less conciliatory bunch of diplomats in the next round of 6 party talks unless it did something drastic. So now it has done something. The game continues.
She cites to the Economist:
But the idea that America should set aside its uranium concerns is given a bipartisan rebuttal in the current issue of Foreign Affairs by Robert Gallucci, who negotiated the 1994 plutonium deal with North Korea under the Clinton administration, and Mitchell Reiss, the just departed head of policy planning in the Bush administration’s State Department. Turning a blind eye to evidence of North Korea’s enrichment work would, they argue, leave Mr Kim with a covert supply of fissile material, whether for bomb making or for export, including to terrorist groups.

So far, despite its tough line, says Gary Samore, of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, America has in effect acquiesced in North Korea’s becoming a covert nuclear power. South Korea recently admitted for the first time that it suspects the North of possessing nuclear weapons too.

But that is only part of the story. Its exports of missiles and imports of illicit nuclear goods are being disrupted on land, at sea and in the air under the American-led proliferation security initiative, which Russia has formally joined and which even China has said a few kind words about. Its collaborators, including Iran and Syria, are coming under increasing scrutiny. Its narcotics and counterfeiting activities are being squeezed too. Meanwhile, there have been reports of political intrigues and even some limited anti-regime protests. Mr Kim may soon pick one of his sons as the next dynast-designate, in part to quell rumours that he is losing his grip.

Lashing out under pressure is a Kim trademark. So is demanding hefty bribes, from China and others, for better behaviour. Mr Kim may yet change his mind again about the nuclear talks. But expect him to take his time about it.

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