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February 18, 2005
North Korea Backing Down Again?

North Korea has a history of making provocative and disruptive statements and then retreating when their opponents refuse to back down. After declaring itself a nuclear power earlier, despite never having conducted an N-weapon test, North Korea outright rejected any notion of returning to the six-nation talks that the US demands. However, faced with US adamance on multination diplomacy and a diplomatic shrug on its nuclear declaration, North Korea tonight suddenly retreated on diplomacy:

North Korea will return to six-party talks on its nuclear program if the United States pledges to stay out of Pyongyang's "domestic affairs" -- a prospect that could lead to the two nations becoming "friends," North Korea's envoy to the United Nations told a South Korean newspaper for Saturday's editions.

Last week, North Korea said it had no intention of returning to the negotiating table and declared that the nation already has nuclear weapons and is prepared to build more.

That earlier statement was met by strong comments in Washington, which has refused to offer concessions to North Korea and has rejected Pyongyang's calls for direct talks with the United States.

The Kim regime has pulled this play out of its notebook on several occasions during the Bush administration. Kim plays a none-too-subtle game of cat and mouse, trying to embarass the Bush administration into backing down and caving in to its demands for bilateral talks and concessions. Such tactics worked with the Clinton administration, and gauging from the reaction of Democrats last week to Kim's pronouncement of N-weapons development, it would have worked with a Kerry administration as well.

China, meanwhile, had already picked up signals from the Bush administration that the stalled talks would not allow the Chinese off the hook. Bush continues to press Beijing diplomatically to impose economic sanctions on the Kim regime, which they have not yet done. However, the Chinese have decided to go to Pyongyang to tell Kim that his gambit hasn't worked:

Wang Jiarui, head of the international department of the Chinese Communist Party, was flying to Pyongyang. He was expected to try and persuade North Korea to return to the negotiating table. ...

China will likely use "patient diplomacy, plus some persuasion, plus some economic incentives, plus some political concessions from the United States and South Korea" to lure the North back to the six-country talks, Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Beijing's Renmin University, said earlier.

Where the NoKos stated last week that six-party talks were dead, now they just have two preconditions to their restart. They want a guarantee of peaceful coexistence from the US and some sort of assurance of "concrete results" from nuclear disarmament. The concreete results they want -- that they desperately need -- is financial support for the tottering Kim tyranny. Their people starve by the millions, and the demonization of America will hold their loyalty for only so long before someone gets a sense of how tenuous his grip on power really is.

That probably has been the game all along, and the nuclear weapons (if they truly exist) are only the fodder for his extortion racket. They also provided extra benefit as a scare tactic to undermine American resolve and get the best deal he could get, without having to answer to his Chinese allies/masters. Now Kim has been forced back to the table on Bush's terms. It looks like the grown-ups in the White House have learned from Kim's history.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 18, 2005 11:07 PM

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» North Korea returns to table from Conservative Friends
Captain Ed has some good analysis on North Korea backing down and returning to the table.

[quote:5f2bc131e9](CNN) -- North Korea... [Read More]

Tracked on February 19, 2005 6:34 AM

» NK Outcomes from Epoch3 Blog
My Theory then is that Mr. Il is all about keeping control of the country and he'll defend his right on down to his last, emaciated citizen. [Read More]

Tracked on February 19, 2005 2:22 PM

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