Tuesday, September 20, 2005
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Mohamed El Baradei speaks a bit too soon
Daniel Dombey and Gareth Smyth report in the Financial Times that the head of the IAEA is very excited about the proposed settlement on North Korea's nuclear ambitions:
Well, turns out there are a few problems with this model:
posted by Dan on 09.20.05 at 11:35 AM
Let me be the first to admit that I do not know what is going on with North Korea. They could just be playing the usual games, or acting out a factional dispute within their government, or acting out a faction dispute that has been settled as to policy but not as to public statements. I don't think we can do more than guess without more information, and I'm not in a guessing mood today.posted by: Zathras on 09.20.05 at 11:35 AM [permalink]
It's possible that NK is just playing games or playing out an internal struggle. But this may also be the price of papering over a major disagreement with vague language in order to get a signed document.
For days before this accord was reached, we had been reading that the timing of the LWR issue was the main stumbling block, and the talks were going to break down over that issue. Then suddenly there is a "deal." But does it resolve this issue? No. It defers the matter to "an appropriate time"--which would be fine if every one agreed what that meant. But clearly, there was no prior agreement on what "appropriate time" meant, otherwise it would have been specified more clearly in the accord.
It is quite possible that this "breakthrough" is much less than it seems.posted by: KenS on 09.20.05 at 11:35 AM [permalink]
again, I find it harder & harder to interpret NK's erratic behavior as a form of clever tactics, political realism, or culture. This looks like a factional dispute to me.
But regardless, the treaty is most likely *not* going to hold. So the question I ask is: what next? Personally, if I had to bet, I'd put most of my money on the continued status-quo, and the rest on a coup or assassination of KJI.posted by: jprime on 09.20.05 at 11:35 AM [permalink]
If anyone would bother to read the actual text of the signed, six-party agreement (published in the Times yesterday), they would see that the North Koreans have a point. What they actually was agreed to was progress on the basis of "commitment for commitment; action for action." It seems that they interpret those words as meaning that they will take action (get rid of their nuke program) when the U.S. takes action (gives them a light water reactor). Although the North Koreans are unreasonable people generally, I don't think that's an unreasonable reading.posted by: Bleny on 09.20.05 at 11:35 AM [permalink]
First, there is no question that the newest North Korean statements--published on KCNA just today--are completely contrary to the deal signed in Beijing. North Korea agreed to get NPT-compliant, which, under Article III of the NPT, is a legal prerequisite to it getting light-water reactors. How does North Korea become NPT compliant? Only by shutting down its reactors, handing over its nukes and the highly enriched uranium program it still denies, and letting the inspectors back in--which it now says it won't do.
I also have an e-mail from a well-placed "inside source" in Congress who claims that Congress will never fund energy assistance for North Korea, much less any light water reactor that would take billions of dollars and many years to be completed.
More fundamentally, what's the point of making agreements that have shelf lives of half a day?
Also, more on that cutoff of food aid here. Bottom line--the U.N.'s World Food Program is actually going along with this just a month after declaring that 6.5 million North Koreans depend on the food it provides.
Either the WFP lied to us about the actual needs or it's prepared to sacrifice millions more innocent North Korean lives for the sake of appeasing the regime.
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