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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Meanwhile North Korea restarts nuclear weapons program

Perhaps you missed the story -AFP: NKorea halts denuclearisation
North Korea said Tuesday it has stopped disabling its nuclear plants and will consider restoring them because the United States has failed to remove it from a terrorism blacklist.

The communist state accused the US of an "outright violation" of a six-nation nuclear disarmament deal and said work to make the plutonium-producing plants at Yongbyon unusable had halted on August 14.

"Secondly, the DPRK (North Korea) will consider soon a step to restore the nuclear facilities in Yongbyon to their original state as strongly requested by its relevant institutions," said a foreign ministry spokesman.

The US says the North must accept strict procedures to verify the declaration it made in June of its nuclear activities before it can be taken off the blacklist, which blocks US economic aid.
Real analysis at

Pyongyang plays a wild card
The timing of Pyongyang's announcement that North Korea intends to resume its development of nuclear warheads was either uncannily brilliant, or incredibly dumb.

Coming in the midst of the Democratic national convention in Denver, the statement from the North Korean Foreign Ministry had American officials talking, but was barely noted after a brief flurry of reports that the North had "suspended" the dismantlement of its nuclear program.

So much for that televised image of the blowing-up of the cooling tower at the Yongbyon nuclear complex two months ago. And so much for the pronouncements that North Korea had moved on to the "next stage" of the nuclear agreement of February 2007, and would soon be ready to get rid of its whole nuclear program.

North Korea can go about reversing the perceived progress engendered in recent months and then present Bush with a full-blown nuclear crisis before he steps down near in January.

Then it will be up to Bush's successor to decide whether he's willing to go through a serious escalation of tension on the Korean Peninsula while also attempting to make good on promises to get out of Iraq. It's just possible that Obama's first gesture as president would be to strike North Korea's name off the terror list in a show of dedication to the peace process - and a slight at Bush for having been so stubborn.

Whatever happens, though, North Korea is not going to submit to a process of "verification" of what it's doing just appease the American perception of what's meant by its promises to go "non-nuclear". As the North Korean Foreign Ministry statement noted, the North is not about to yield to the "brigandish demand" of the Americans and submit to a "house search" like those that American troops conduct in Iraq.

The frankness of North Korea's refusal of an acceptable "verification protocol" would appear to fly in the face of all the sweet talk between Hill and North Korea's nuclear envoy, Kim Kye-gwan. It's always possible, however, that North Korea is engaging in an enormous bluff - and is not actually intent on rebuilding nuclear warheads.
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