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May 9, 2005
NoKos Try Orwell As They Return To Bargaining Table

The North Koreans have sent a "conciliatory" message asking for a resumption of the multilateral negotiations the US insists on using as a framework for non-proliferation talks with the Kim regime. In fact, the message was so conciliatory that the North Koreans now claim that they never wanted any other kind of framework than the six-nation approach:

Capping a week of rising tension with a conciliatory note, a foreign ministry statement issued late Sunday said Pyongyang was ready to sit down and resolve the standoff through six-party talks.

"Our will to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and seek a negotiated solution to (the nuclear standoff) still remains unchanged," the statement said Monday, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

It also dropped a precondition to a resumption of the six-way talks by denying it had ever asked for separate, one-on-one talks with Washington, a demand the United States has rejected.

"We have never requested the DPRK (North Korea)-US talks independent of the six-way talks," the foreign ministry spokesman was quoted as saying.

Excuse me? Pyongyang has long insisted that its only obstacle to peace was the United States and that before any regional arrangements could be made, the US had to negotiate directly with Kim on a non-aggression pact. It was that same foot-stamping by Kim during Clinton's term that led Jimmy Carter to come to his rescue, pushing Clinton to agree to that framework that eventually gave Kim enough time to develop his nuclear weapons. This double-speak might fool the North Korean citizenry -- although I doubt it -- but it shouldn't fool anyone else.

Pyongyang knows that it won't move the Bush administration through threats, at least not in ways it wants. It found that out when Condoleezza Rice threw Kim's missile test back in their faces, reminding Kim that the US has more nuclear warheads on one submarine than Kim has altogether -- and that if he wants to play the game that way, we can certainly escalate it right along with him. That exchange may have been instructive for both Pyongyang and our erstwhile nonproliferation partners in Beijing. One suspects that the Chinese may have more than just a little influence on Kim's latest note of conciliation.

Once again, the North Koreans rolled the dice for belligerence, and once again they came up snake-eyes. Sooner or later, they may actually start learning that this American administration doesn't get impressed with sabre-rattling from tinpot dictators, even those with a few big guns under the desk.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 9, 2005 8:24 AM

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This interesting "change of heart" on the part of North Korean dictator Kim jung-iL is, I think, very instructive: Capping a week of rising tension with a conciliatory note, a foreign ministry statement issued late Sunday said Pyongyang was read... [Read More]

Tracked on May 9, 2005 5:26 PM

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