Wednesday, March 21, 2007

This article contrasts rather sharply with Grace's post, which pointed out that South Korea is looking for complete denuclearization. It would appear that North Korea is looking to keep their nuclear weapons, which is unsurprising, and simply abandon the creation of more in favor of working with the US and its neighbors, or at least getting its money back.

My impression of the post-test talks were that they acknowledged (rather than accepted) North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons and sought to prevent them from making more without having any concrete action on getting rid of their existing ones. This could have been implied, or just could have been my own point of view (because really, I cannot see North Korea walking away from its nuclear weapons any time in the near future). Publicly, South Korea seems adamant about complete denuclearization, and it gets mentioned a lot in articles as what the talks are aimed at, but is that something the governments really think they can accomplish?

It will be interesting to see if, once North Korea gets its money in the bank, its nuclear weapons, and its capitulation from the US on dealing bilaterally, whether they will walk away from the talks.

1 comment:

Eric said...

Erin's last paragraph got me thinking about KN's strategic positioning and how that relates to the BDA issue.

I think that they are using the BDA money transfer as a test to see how flexible the other five parties are (most notably the US), and what degree of leverage they really have by coming to (and leaving) the table. This is not the first time denuclearization has been negociated, but this is the first time they've gotten the US in bilateral talks since the Agreed Framework. On top of that, the 180 degree turn that the Bush administration has made (from being hardliners to being semi-pro-engagement) is unchartered waters for everyone - including DPRK and the US.

With that said - it is important in the strategic calculus to remember that $24 million in BDA is pale in comparison to well north of $300 million in energy aid. On top of that, there are many more steps in the denuclearization political process and opportunities for additional leveraged rewards for DPRK.

In sum, I would say - the BDA issue is a testbed, not the end all be all for the DPRK. If the five parties walked away over DPRK's unwillingness to make the process work, I imagine DPRK would come back or at least offer a more moderate stance, because they have their eyes on the stream of payments coming from this step in the 6PT and future steps (of which the amounts for payoff are only limited by the imagination of the DPRK officials in deciding how little progress to make for each step).

From the US policy standpoint, I believe we will continue to make consessions unless the DPRK performs another missile test, nuke test, or other provocative act. And that's what they're counting on in being so bold about the BDA issue.

In a 6PT update on CNN, they state that the Feb 13 announcement has "warmed ties between the Koreas" evidenced by South Korea resuming aid to the North. I don't agree with this at all. In my humble opinion, South Korea wanted to send the aid regardless of the provocations in July and October, but were heavy-handed by the US to hold off. The DPRK doesn't feel any "warmer" about the South either. If anything, they probably feel an increased air of superiority. Off my soapbox - I just hate how some media agents paint the cliche picture and ignore more rigorous analysis.