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December 18, 2006
You First

Kim Jong-Il has rejoined the six-party talks aimed at ending his nuclear-weapons program and opening North Korea for foreign aid and trade. The other parties have promised an end to sanctions and economic assistance if Pyongyang ends its development of nukes, but the Kim regime has challenged them to act first:

North Korea has said it would only consider scrapping its nuclear weapons when all international sanctions against it are lifted, as disarmament talks resumed here after a 13-month break.

Declaring itself "satisfied" with becoming a nuclear power following its first-ever atomic test on October 9, North Korea offered no signs of compromise at the six-nation talks Monday, according to officials who were at the forum.

Instead North Korean chief envoy Kim Kye-Gwan called, in his opening remarks to the talks, for
United Nations and US sanctions to be lifted, as well as repeating long-held demands for help in developing a nuclear power industry.

So once again Kim has come to the table only to emphasize his intransigence. That, of course, is his opening position, but it won't be his final word on the subject. Kim came back to the table because he knows that China has just about decided to wash their hands of him, particularly him. Beijing found him useful only until he disobeyed them and made them look impotent by actually detonating his nuke earlier this year.

He's just about finished unless he can get the sanctions lifted, and he knows it. Kim survived three coup attempts in the 1990s with China as his ally, but he won't survive another with them disaffected from his regime. If he cannot feed his Army, they are likely to start looking for a leader who can, revered father or not.

What's worse is that the nature of the six-party talks almost guarantees that he will lose on this point. All five other nations want him to recommit to his previous disarmament plan and are not looking to take no for an answer. They will not allow Kim to wriggle off the hook; Japan will drive that more than the US. China and Russia understand that an end result of failure will be a nuclear and more militarized Japan, and they both want to avoid that more than they want Kim Jong-Il as a client.

North Korea will, in the end, give up its nukes. Whether Kim remains in charge at that point is the real question.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 18, 2006 5:18 AM

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