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July 24, 2004
North Korea: We're Not Libya

North Korea rejected an informal proposal by senior US officials that Pyongyang could enjoy economic aid and better relations if it gave up its nuclear ambitions as did Libya:

Senior US officials have urged North Korea to follow the example of Libya, which has seen most sanctions against it lifted after it gave up its weapons of mass destruction.

But Pyongyang dismissed the US proposal as "a sham offer not worthy of further discussion".

"The US is foolish enough to calculate that such mode imposed upon Libya would be accepted by [North Korea] too," a spokesman was quoted as saying.

Pyongyang has said it will freeze its nuclear facilities, perhaps leading to their eventual dismantling, but only after the US provides energy aid, lifts economic sanctions and stops accusing it of sponsoring terrorism.

In other words, Kim Jong-Il is determined to play chicken right down to the inevitable crash. Faced with a starving and oppressed population, Kim would rather ensure his isolation than liberalize his policies and accept aid. Unfortunately, he doesn't even have to face that choice, as the BBC reports that we're sending 50,000 tons of food aid anyway. It appears that Kim understands nuclear blackmail all too well and enjoys playing the game.

Speaking of the BBC, their expert analyst assures us that the rhetoric means nothing, nothing at all:

The BBC's Jonathan Head says although North Korea's tone sounds ominous, such statements are not unusual and do not mean it will abandon talks on its nuclear programme.

Sure. And Hitler only wrote Mein Kampf to 'energize his base'. He didn't really mean any of that rhetoric about using military force to gain Lebensraum in Eastern Europe and Russia ...

UPDATE: Corrected spelling of 'lebensraum', with a hat tip to Xrlq. Dammit, I even googled it to double-check my spelling, and somehow I missed it.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 24, 2004 10:44 AM

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