Friday, October 20, 2006
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North Korea says they don't need no stinking tests
Despite reports earlier this week that North Korea had been planning three more nuclear tests, there are fresh reports that North Korea is saying there will be no more tests. From the Korea Times:
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il told a ranking Chinese envoy that his country has no plan to conduct additional nuclear tests, the Yonhap News Agency reported on Friday (Oct. 20).Reacting to the news, Glenn Reynolds asks: "Is it because diplomacy worked? (Yay, Condi!) Or is it because his scientists told him there was no chance of a pulling off a successful test any time soon?"
I'd say the answer is "none of the above." I'd have to go with "threats of Chinese economic coercion":
China is weighing tough measures to curb North Korea's nuclear ambitions, with government experts calling for the reduction of critical supplies of oil and food that have helped sustain its isolated, impoverished neighbor.I shiuld confess that I have a theoretical stake in this answer -- but I don't think eirther diplomacy alone or Kim's worries about technical screw-ups are sufficient to explain this climbdown. Indeed, on the latter moltivation, one of the reasons to conduct nuclear tests is to figure out how to prevent mistakes in the future. The DPRK's first test -- which was a partial failure -- increased the incentive to conduct more tests.
Whether the DPRK returns to six-party talks remains to be seen.
Developing....posted by Dan on 10.20.06 at 11:54 AM
When Glenn suggests that it may be diplomacy that is working with the North Koreans, I believe that he means that Bush's strategy of attacking the problem multilaterally, dragging the Chinese into the fray and forcing the Chinese to act in their own self interest (if for no other reason to keep Jpan non-nuclear), is a successful diplomatic strategy! Much better that diplomatic approach than the pursuit of bilateral talks with the North Koreans where the Chinese are not part of the process!posted by: RAZ on 10.20.06 at 11:54 AM [permalink]
I doubt this is a case of Bush "dragging the Chinese" into anything. The Bush Administration, as far as I can tell, has been running in a circle wringing its hands trying to figure out what it can do about NK. Basically, it is--as one commentator here put it earlier--the Chinese are getting fed up with their weird little pet on the border and are doing calculations as to whether supporting him hasn't been more trouble then it's worth in developing local power. And with a "hardliner" in Japan who is quite stiff about NK, the last thing the Chinese want is to have Japan spooked into starting their own nuclear program.
It's very good to play the wise old power in Asia, but if you want to gain authority, you gotta show you have it. So the financial cutbacks are the yank on NK's chain.posted by: tzs on 10.20.06 at 11:54 AM [permalink]
This is really pretty unbelievable and ought to have a major impact. The question is whether it will cause NK to start acting reasonably or to go off and attack Japan or South Korea.posted by: China Law Blog on 10.20.06 at 11:54 AM [permalink]
Why isn't "threats of sanctions" a form of diplomacy?
posted by: Antonio Manetti on 10.20.06 at 11:54 AM [permalink]
No one is happy about North Korea having an atomic weapon, but we should not delude ourselves. We do not know if they designed their test chamber to minimize the shock wave.
Most of their plutonium is reactor grade. There is a fair chance that they would not use their limited stock the weapons grade plutonium for an inital test. A test done with reactor grade material will almost certainly result in some type of a fizzle detonation. This test will still verify that their implosion design is sound and probably yield a lot of other usful information.posted by: Bill D on 10.20.06 at 11:54 AM [permalink]
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