Tuesday, April 1, 2003

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (0)


MULTILATERALISM IN NORTH KOREA: One of the arguments promulgated against the war with Iraq was that it would encourage North Korea to proliferate nuclear weapons so as to avoid the same fate. IHowever, the evidence seems to suggest the opposite -- North Korea's position is softening due to multilateral pressure.

Want evidence that the Bush administration's strategy is succeeding in cajoling North Korea's neighbors into playing a constructive role in defusing the North Korea crisis? Consider the following:

This Financial Times piece does a nice job of describing the recent shuttle diplomacy over North Korea. The key grafs:

"Ra Jong-yil, South Korea's national security adviser, began on Monday a week of talks in Russia and China about the nuclear crisis hanging over the Korean peninsula.

Last week, Maurice Strong, a United Nations envoy, met North Korean officials in Pyongyang and Yoon Young-kwan, South Korea's foreign minister, visited Washington and Tokyo.

The flurry of diplomacy is designed to find a way to persuade North Korea to abandon its suspected nuclear weapons programme.

Mr Ra's optimism echoed upbeat comments by Mr Strong following his return from Pyongyang last week. The positive mood does not mean a breakthrough is imminent but diplomats detect signs that North Korea is softening its stance.

Many analysts had forecast that Pyongyang would use the war in Iraq as an opportunity to escalate the crisis, calculating that the US would be too preoccupied to respond.

However, diplomats in Seoul say there is no intelligence to suggest North Korea is preparing to start producing weapons-grade plutonium or to test a ballistic missile. Either Pyongyang has been delayed by technical difficulties or it has decided now is not the moment to play its strongest bargaining chips.

'They have encountered some technical problems,' said one diplomat. 'But I would like to think they are also listening to the Russians and Chinese and others, who are all saying: "Don't do it.'"'"

Then there's this story on how the Japanese government has decided to move towards the U.S. position on both Iraq and North Korea:

"Given North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons, Japan is acutely aware of its reliance on the U.S. security umbrella. The two countries signed a security treaty in 1960 that extends U.S. military protection in exchange for bases in Japan.

'The North Korean dictatorship poses a threat to the safety of Japan and thus a major concern this time,' Taro Yayoma, a columnist at conservative 'Sankei' daily newspaper, says, explaining why Japan's support for the U.S. war efforts are bigger this time around than in the 1991 Gulf War.

Indeed, the invasion of Iraq has turned into a hard lesson for Japan, a pacifist country that was also defeated under U.S. bombing that ended World War II, says Yukio Okamato, special advisor to the Cabinet. That is because Japan knows full well that Washington's backing would come in handy with regard to instability next door in North Korea, which has been at loggerheads with the United States after its admission of a secret nuclear prorgramme and Washington's labelling it as part of the 'axis of evil' that included Iraq.

'Tokyo has no other choice but to support the U.S. administration in this war,' explains Okamato."

And yes, the British are also being consulted.

posted by Dan on 04.01.03 at 02:52 PM