Friday, September 05, 2003

South Korea's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade has been talking it up in Washington DC, and laughing it up if the piccy is anything to go by. Perhaps part of the good humor can be attributed to reputed success by the State Department to get Bush to be a little less hard-line. US is almost as unpredictable as North Korea these days. Although this may just be a temporary matter since
Mr. Armitage and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell proposed the new strategy to Mr. Bush last month. Several officials said that it was further nurtured without the involvement of many of the aides to Donald H. Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, who have sought to limit the offers to North Korea.

"It helped that a lot of them were on vacation, or thinking about Iraq," one of the architects of the new approach said today.
One might assume that as soon as the vacation is over Mr Bush may be swayed back to his original hardline stance.

The Economist has come out with a piece adovocating that
America therefore needs to set out a workable sequence of verifiable steps to be taken. And since it understandably refuses to reward North Korea economically for giving up weapons it never should have had, others, including South Korea and Japan, could offer incentives to make any deal stick.

As for Mr Kim, he needs persuading that holding on to his nuclear weapons, far from protecting his regime, will threaten its downfall. China and Russia should stop blocking moves to take his treaty-breaking to the UN Security Council. China supplies North Korea with most of its fuel and much else. It has been reluctant to flip off the taps for fear of destabilising its prickly neighbour. But the wider damage Mr Kim is doing gives China reason to get tougher. For if diplomacy fails to disarm North Korea, only force will be left.
I concur.

Currently reading:

"Hell" by Yasutaka Tsutsui