Saturday, April 14, 2007

"The Chinese wanted us to show some patience"

...Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill was quoted as having remarked in this CNN/AP piece. Because of the "unexpected complexities" that arose with regard to the DPRK funds in accounts at the now infamous Banco Delta Asia, the US has decided to give the North "a few more days" to shut down its nuclear facility at Yongbyon.

I find Hill's statement interesting. Is this an indication of the sway China holds in this process? If China wants the five non-DPRK parties to display some patience, why not make the announcement itself? Is this good, old fashioned diplomatic (or US domestic political) posturing? Is it a tacit expression of the view that the issue is, in actuality, a US-DPRK bilateral issue? Could the US-centric focus simply be a reflection of that fact that I pulled the piece from CNN? I guess, belaboring the obvious, my question is: why is it "the US" that has decided to give North Korea a few more days and not "we the five parties of the Six Party Talks have decided"? I wonder if there will be an official statement with wording that presents the decision as that of the five parties, not just the United States.

Anyway, an unidentified official from the State Department referenced in the article notes that the US deems it "prudent" to give the North a measure of additional time, but cautions that the Administration's patience has limits.

Hill is also quoted as saying that DPRK officials are aware that their funds have been made accessible and, at the end of the piece, remarks that there has been an asymmetry of diplomatic effort to move things forward (quipping that the DPRK hasn't put forth an effort commensurate with that of the other parties).

As Will observed in class, the ball is now squarely in Pyongyang's court. In the next few weeks, with the BDA issue apparently resolved, we should see if the North is prepared to move forward with the denuclearization process. Sure, I'm a pessimist, but why do I see a "one step forward, one step back" dance routine in our future?

Here's to hoping I'm wrong on the eve of what would be the Eternal Leader's 95th birthday.

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