Sunday, March 30, 2003

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DREZNER GETS RESULTS ON NORTH KOREA!!: Back in January, I argued that the optimal strategy to deal with North Korea was to, "intimate to the key players the implications of DPRK proliferation (neither Russia nor China would be thrilled with the proliferation of nuclear weapons to Muslim-majority countries) and/or U.S. disengagement, and then combine some U.S. assurances of North Korean security with Chinese/Russian pressure on Pyongyang to behave better." The key to U.S. diplomacy here was to prevent North Korea's neighbors from buckpassing.

It looks increasingly like the U.S. is playing according to this script. First, there's this Jonathan Rauch story in Reason from two weeks ago that describes the U.S. strategy of ensuring that other countries in the region face up to the problem as well. Then there's today's story in the Baltimore Sun (link via Glenn Reynolds):

"For three straight days in recent weeks, something remarkable happened to the oil pipeline running through northeast China to North Korea - the oil stopped flowing, according to diplomatic sources, temporarily cutting off a vital lifeline for North Korea.
The pipeline shutdown, officially ascribed to a technical problem, followed an unusually blunt message delivered by China to its longtime ally in a high-level meeting in Beijing last month, the sources said. Stop your provocations about the possible development of nuclear weapons, China warned its neighbor, or face Chinese support for economic sanctions against the regime.

Such tough tactics show an unexpected resolve in Beijing's policy toward Pyongyang, and hint at the nervousness of Chinese leaders about North Korea's nuclear ambitions and North Korea's tensions with the United States.

With the Bush administration asking China to take a more active role, Beijing's application of pressure could convince North Korea to drop its demands for talks exclusively with the United States - a demand that Washington rejects."

UPDATE: Reuters also has the story.

posted by Dan on 03.30.03 at 11:35 PM