North Korea Agrees To End Nuclear Programs

Talks in Geneva between North Korea and the US have produced a breakthrough on nuclear disarmament. Pyongyang has declared that it will end all nuclear-weapons efforts by the end of 2007, agreeing for the first time to account for its complete list of programs:

North Korea agreed in weekend talks with the United States to fully account for and disable its nuclear programs by the end of this year, negotiators said on Sunday.
“We had very good, very substantive talks,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill told reporters. “One thing that we agreed on is that (North Korea) will provide a full declaration of all of their nuclear programs and will disable their nuclear programs by the end of this year, 2007.”
North Korea’s top nuclear envoy said separately his delegation was pleased with the outcome of the talks, held to hasten the end of Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, a target agreed to in principle in 2005 in exchange for diplomatic and economic benefits.
“We agreed about many things,” Kim Kye-gwan, speaking in Korean, told reporters. “We made it clear, we showed clear willingness to declare and dismantle all nuclear facilities.”

Neither side revealed what the DPRK received in return for its capitulation, but some carrots have been long proferred by the other five parties in the talks. Kim Jong-Il has demanded economic assistance and normalization of relations with the US for decades, and certainly would expect to receive both in exchange for shutting down his nukes. That would likely end the war between the two Koreas, which has been ongoing for almost sixty years and only quieted by a truce.
The US and the other nations should ensure that verification is a big part of the agreement. The Bush administration has insisted on better verification regimes than the previous Agreed Framework that allowed Pyongyang to build its nuclear program in secret. That is especially necessary now that the US has apparently agreed to take North Korea off its list of terror sponsoring nations, which will allow the DPRK to start selling its arms openly, and buying even more for themselves.
The DPRK will meet with Japan in a couple of weeks in Mongolia to reach agreement on side issues, especially on the abductions of Japanese nationals over several decades. If that proceeds well, the six-party negotiators will meet once more immediately afterwards to ratify all agreements. If this succeeds, it will increase pressure on the other major known nuclear dabbler, Iran, which just announced an increase of operational centrifuges to 3,000. That can’t be good news for the mullahcracy, who had tried coordination with the DRPK as a means to keep the international pressure split.
A success with North Korea would give Bush some momentum in foreign policy, and a real accomplishment for the last months of his term. Hopefully it will represent a real and peaceful victory for the US and pave the way towards freedom for the people starving on the Korean peninsula.

46 thoughts on “North Korea Agrees To End Nuclear Programs”

  1. Normally I’d post only if I had a comment to offer … in this case, it’s a question for Cap’n Ed and others:
    How does this new deal stack up against the criticisms lodged by former UN Ambassador John Bolton against the entire NOKO-6 Party negotiations process, as recently as this past week?
    I respect Bolton for his service and no-BS attitude as UN Embassador, but his “glass almost empty” critique either is spot on, and this whole deal is a complete sham, or Bolton is guilty of a sour grapes attitude (i.e., because he’s no longer on the team that negotiated the deal).
    Which is it?
    Care to comment, Cap’n?

  2. I’d say that John Bolton should get respect for his point of view, but until we see the whole deal, we should also respect Christopher Hill, who’s done a pretty good job so far with Pyongyang.
    Do you have a link for that statement?

  3. Maybe, that “sucking-Ill” person may be dead?
    And, didn’t the North Koreans suffer something that looked like a nuclear explosion on their train tracks about two years ago? A whole forest of trees went down, I think. And, of course. The news was buried.
    Let alone, how the Chinese feel about this canker sore, growing out of control. I think, once-upon-a-time it was supposed to be “bait” that would snare the Americans.
    Bush made the decision to shrug. And, let the Chinese deal with it.
    Meanwhile, the DMZ is about 3 miles worth of land mines. Not exactly where the bridges will be built, allowing the north to migrate “south.”
    But when the smoke clears? You bet, I expect korea to be whole again. One country. Where everyone is related by family mix.
    Any-hoo, it’s like dealing with Cuba. Where I think castro is dead. But Raoul doesn’t want to produce the body. And, so is Ill. Deader than a doornail. No funeral, either. Just this “news” that the crappy nuclear program is being folded. It’s a good thing in a small package, though.

  4. Talking is always good for a starting point and it is what the State Department does as that is all it knows how to do. Talking should always be accompanied with a rigid timeline and an implied second step so if it does not succeed one takes the next step. And when doing so one should always remember the famous quote: “You can always achieve more with kind words and a gun than just with kind words”.
    With Iran ANY talk should be on a definite timetable with a series of next steps as they are moving rapidly toward completion of a nuclear bomb. But I am not sure talking with them is wise in any event. It makes us look weak.
    To put it in a more understandable light. A question: If there was a convicted killer living across town who said he wanted to kill you and everyone you knew, would you agree to meet him on his front porch or even at a coffeeshop to discuss the matter?
    Vern Wuensche
    Republican Candidate for President 2008

  5. If this works out to be true (I have my doubts), then it will prove that Bush’s initial shutting down talks with NK was the better route than the Failed negotiations of the clinton admin.’The carrot and the stick’ is always better than ‘unlimited carrots.’

  6. Sounds nice at first glance, but what’s the angle we’re missing? The Bush administration has done a masterful job WRT NoKoComs and maneuvering things through a different course than what we have been accustomed to. It would be a historical feather in Bush’s cap if there is a tangible change in the North Korean nuclear ambitions, but history should insist that we be quite cynical, perhaps Boltonesque.
    We’ve tried the inspection regime only to be thwarted after making considerable payments. I’d be much more inclined to think that this is yet another delaying tactic by Kim to acquire western resources (probably) or Soviet/Iranian ones while we let our guard down since North Korea still seems to lack the required expertise to fire up a nuke of substance. Their recent attempts to test their nukes weren’t particularly successful, and surely they’ll need to acquire more technological expertise and raw materials. An empty concession would give them that time buffer even if they announce perceivably humbled rhetoric.
    Consider also that they may be trying to push American politics to a globally softer footing so that they may pursue nukes under a less hawkish administration. North Korea knows that the Republicans will wage war. It also knows the Democrats are much less likely. As the tide turns in Iraq, they’ll observe more Republican spine. It may not be too long from now that the US will start drawing down our presence in Iraq and rejuvenate the forces for other global hot spots. Perhaps their dealing with Bush now will soothe American voter concerns about North Korean nukes… enough to get the electorate to go more dovish than hawkish and get a Democrat as CiC. Does anyone envision an Obama, Clinton, or Edwards (aaahahahaha) roughing up a Kim?
    As much as I’d like to believe there will be a complete and verifiable disarming, I don’t. Too much history and too few antagonists to the Kim regime that matter should make us very leery. Plus, if Bolton is skeptical, then we should listen to him. Raise your hand if you trust the State Department as a whole.

  7. I’ll tell you what’s missing- the fact that the USA should never negotiate with N. Korea. It’s a worthless terorrist state. Bush has turned back to Clinton’s foreign policy where the US holds “peace talks” with our sworn enemies.
    When I voted for Bush, I did not vote for this kind of nonsense.

  8. John Bolton’s criticism of the process has focused on the (1) the unreliability of Intelligence with respect to NK nuclear programs; and (2)the danger that narrow self-interest of the bureaucrat class will result in a deal that tips closer to the failed Clinton policies of the 90s than the Bush administration tough-stance policy.
    I think the details will either confirm or disprove Bolton’s reservations. Of course he’s a smart man, but if his speculations turn out to be false, that doesn’t make him less of a smart man, or a petty man, as a previous poster has insinuated.
    Time will tell.

  9. John Bolton, not Larry Craig, is the man the GOP should have gone to the wall for.
    And, didn’t.
    As to Larry Craig; I know how lawyers work. To confuse you, so that people can get off; they head through the doors marked “where’s the evidence?” And, “not enough evidence.” It’s probably why the major dailies are dying for lack of business; and the Internet grows even on slow news weekends.
    Ya know, I bet inside the Beltway there’s a keen understanding of whose the best; and who is not. Similar to college campuses; where you can be directed toward wonderful professors. Or get hung up on the affirmative action courses that are totally meaningless. Someday? People wll get glimpses of management styles. So they’ll know why businesses fail. At least we have that. In case you didn’t know success and failure come about in contests where good leadership is crucial. (General Douglas MacArthur was wrong. His reputation, over time, will grow. And, it’s Truman’s that will fade, downward.)
    John Bolton, to the UN,was one of Bush’s best moves. Alas, his trust in Condi, is a misplaced disaster.
    And, that’s why the GOP rides around, with the Bush Derangement Syndrome affecting our politics. Because the worst cases are in hollyweird, and among the elites in the media. Where billionnaires toss around multi-millions; just to score points. [Like the current fake DePalma film about Haditha.] Imagine this: Has the left paid any price at all?
    As to korea; well, folks, I don’t see them, over there, as a bastion to democracy. While the Japanese, on their own, rebuilt themselves from disaster; and came through. Sometimes, you just can’t take “success” and re-package it for other groups.
    Any-hoo, it’s possible Korea’s nuclear program hit the snag of not developing a “successful cure for cancer.” Or a bomb. You’ll just never know.
    While I think “their great leader” is deader than a doornail. He went from Ill … to begone.

  10. I’d be curious to know how this is being reported in the Chinese press. Whatever’s being said in the media there will be the party line and will give us some idea how real this deal is. Because there’s no deal with NK without the Chinese, right?
    I know this is going to sound really simplistic even silly, but I think the Chinese are trying to clear the decks before the Olympics.
    Ok, yeah it does sound silly but I think there might be something to it. It’s a very big deal to them, hosting the Olympics I mean.

  11. Bennett, in the Age of the Internet, is it possible the Olympics will lose their international luster?
    I know the Chinese have a billion people. So, true. The stadiums will be stuffed. And, the Chinese will look every which way to have their athletes “win a couple.” What’s the usual breakout, though?
    And, what if the Olympics turns into a dud? (Isn’t London also “hosting” Olympics, ahead?)
    I remember when we had the Olympics, here, in California. I think it was 1984. And, so many people got spooked by the anticipated traffic; they left town. (Driving about town was then so easy! Because? The people who left, took their traffic with them.)
    A neighbor actually went to the opening. Paid money to scalpers. And, reported back that it was just magnificent. Even with the flubbed lines when the athlete, who was supposed to light the giant torch, couldn’t remember his lines.
    But up until, now, the Olympics was the biggest media made hoopla event. Dunno what happens, when the Chinese strut up on stage; but the audiences, which are thinning, anyway for the MSM, thin out some more?
    What if other sports venues also notice a decrease in the number of fans they draw?
    I’m just asking, because I’m totally non-athletic. This stuff has sailed on by, before. And, I didn’t watch.
    Yet, I know enough not to draw general conclusions from just my own point of view.
    Still, the Chinese, are in fact, in harm’s way, if the koreans, even by accident, had a nuclear explosion; where one of their tests go “kaboom.”
    It’s possible their underground tests didn’t?
    ]And, it’s also possible there was a major accidental explosion a few years ago. When the spooks find out, however, they don’t come on board to enlighten anyone else.
    We’re always being asked to make assumptions.

  12. I’ve noticed for awhile that Bush plays a similar hand to Olmert. In other words? Very wise as to the insider’s games in politics. But without the charisma necessary to get people “to follow.”
    The “weak hand” doesn’t mean you lose.
    It means you protect yourself from the harms that would come your way; where you are, in fact, not able to carry the ball. Olmert, too, can’t give speeches. And, the press, in Israel, hates him! Ah. And, so do the lawyers.
    So, how come when you play the “weak hand” you draw benefits?
    Well, it’s a lot like poker. It helps if your opponents think you’re stupid. Because it allows you to stay in the game without having to fold, first.
    Drudge has a headline today, that Rove, in the future, thinks Bush’s legacy will come out fine in the history books.
    So far? Since FDR, and Reagan, there hasn’t been one “power house” hitter sitting in the Oval Office.
    And, if you read what people are saying, today, there are a lot of folks out there who don’t particularly like the front runners, in either party.
    Me? On the other hand, I think Bush is writing the textbook on how to apply polics without the “tells,” that would give away his hand.
    And, here ya go. After many years, the korean nuclear threat goes “kaput.”
    For Reagan? It was russia. And, we didn’t even fire a shot. (Though we did buy into Z-Big-New’s plans of bankrupting the Bear, in Afghanistan.
    I think it sometimes takes a long time … for us to get an idea of how great a president is. In Lincoln’s time? He didn’t even carry 50% of the People, enthralled. Only after he got shot, did the myths arrive. And, you bet. He was one of our best. Perhaps, the best! Out of nowhere.
    By Bush succeeding, and his approval ratings improving, he’s giving the Bonkeys conniptions. No wonder, even on a slow news day; politics is still the best conversations, around.

  13. Jeff:
    Bolton was and is right. Withiout the intelligence there is no way of knowing what the NKs are doing. Last time the just moved on to a different enrichment process.

  14. Look, this is easy.
    Trust but verify. He either does it or he doesn’t. If he doesn’t so what. Our policy won’t be changing in any case until he follows through. Bush to his credit has basically followed a put up or shut up policy unlike the Clinton/Carter two step.
    My guess is we bribed him with his favorites, movie dvd’s, a bottle of blue label and several fourteen year old girls.

  15. Listen Patrick, I hope you just want to be cute when talking about trading 14 year old girls with the vile regime in Korea.
    I don’t like the Clinton policy but at least he was willing to start a war over nukes. To me it looks like Bush started to back down a long time ago. After he played all his other cards. This wasn’t a deal made with a strong hand, isn’t that more than obvious? My bet is that we gave those bastards something that will help them survive. Our policy should have done just the opposite.

  16. “I don’t like the Clinton policy but at least he was willing to start a war over nukes.”
    Did I miss something back then? Clinton was really willing to go to war over NK’s nukes? There’s no way I would have missed that. Could I?
    Bill Clinton agreed to an arrangement that allowed NK to continue its program clandestinely. He then pursued one-on-one relations, of a sorts anyway, with the now ridiculed vist of Madeleine Albright to Pyongyang. Even while NK continued to develop its nuclear program. Frankly, I don’t fault him for this because when it comes to NK, war is close to unthinkable.
    If Bill Clinton was really willing to start a war on the Korean Peninsula then he has to have been the stupidest man to occupy the White House ever…and that’s saying a lot.

  17. Friends,
    Well, I hate to sound all unconvinced, but I am more concerned that the North Koreans have simply been using their Nuclear facilities to support the Iranians.
    The way I see it, the Norks built and tested a warhead, built up a bunch and shipped them over to Iran. maybe for oil? Cash? Who knows.
    Now they can shut down their nuclear operations and everybody is all a-twiddle and duckbumps over the de-cuclerizing of North Korea.
    Meanwhile, the Iranians keep plodding along, testing their missles, and waiting for the shipment from their good buddies.

  18. I’d ask Peanut Carter’s opinion. If he throws a hillbilly fit and starts badmouthing his own country for foreign speaking honorariums we’ll know the negotiations are working. What’s that? Oh yeah, Peanut is already badmouthing the USA at foreign speaking engagements and sending Castro get well notes with the i’s dotted with little hearts. Never mind.
    Hey, maybe if we asked Peanut Carter’s opinion on the negotiations and he throws a hillbilly fit about the current process and how it would wreck North Korea’s robust, thriving and enviable economy. If so, then we’ll know we’re making progress where Peanut & Mad Halfbright sold us out in 1994 in exchange for that lovely basketball autographed by Michael Jordan.

  19. Bill Clinton was never willing to start a war over nukes. Kim Il Sung understood this, and scammed Clinton big time.
    The North Koreans are making the deal because Rice was patient enough to stick with the six party arrangement. She understood that the Chinese were getting tired of supporting an entire class of North Korean Bourbons, and that we weren’t going to jump every time Kim did something.
    Further, the Chinese found their relationship with the South to be a literal gold mine. They wanted peace and stability on the Yalu, and a buffer between themselves and a resurgent Japanese Empire and its Navy. Kim never understood this. Neither, apparently, did John Bolton or the Democrats, who panned what Rice was doing.
    But she stayed with it, and it appears to have paid off, thanks to her faith in Chris Hill’s superb team. Rice has been on the business end of a lot of poison pen stuff lately-people in D.C. settling scores through the media. Condi’s habit has always been to pursue the job and get it done, and it appears to have paid off.
    Now if Petraeus comes through, even the Iraq business will look up.

  20. This deal with the Norks will work if China wants it to work. They have a lot more leverage over NK than we do, while we have a great deal of leverage over China, both in trade and whether we help find a replacement for Iranian oil when we put the screws to the mullahs. I think the skids are greased, and if Kimmy tries to get cute the Chinese will take care of him, and I’ll bet he knows it (if, as others have surmised, he is not already at room temperature).

  21. I don’t think any US President, Democrat or Republican is willing to risk war with NK. I think it’s one of those issues that transcends the party divide. The differences comes in how to do something about NK knowing that war is effectively off the table (even when we don’t concede that publicly).
    Seoul, a city of 10 Million people, is 30 miles from the DMZ and, as I understand it, reachable by NK’s long range artillery. I’m no military expert and don’t claim to be but from everything I’ve read the loss of life in South Korea would be catastrophic.
    So I wasn’t trying to say that Clinton wasn’t willing to go to war but that Bush would. I don’t think any President would.

  22. The eternal optimist in me says: WOW!
    The eternal realist in me says: If something looks too good to be truth….
    But if it is real, President Bush suddenly joins the club of The Greatest Presidents, and my hat off and low for him.

  23. It seems to me that the U.S. is upset because the South Koreans paid the Taliban a ransom to get back their missionary folks.
    How is our expected ransom payment to North Korea different?

  24. “It seems to me that the U.S. is upset because the South Koreans paid the Taliban a ransom to get back their missionary folks.
    How is our expected ransom payment to North Korea different?”
    I’ll take a stab at that even though I wasn’t upset that SK paid to get its people back.
    SK cuts a deal and gets its people back…shows terrorists and others that kidnapping works and they will keep doing it.
    USA cuts a deal and NK drops its nuke program. Unlike the SK hostage situation, this shows other countries that….
    okay, forget it.

  25. What’s all this fawning excitement about? In the early years of Bush’s approach to Korea, the strategy was clear- do NOT talk to the enemy. Instead it ends with peace talks over pastries and tea.
    This deal was about diplomats pleasuring each other under the table and some kind of big give-way to the evil men who run N. Korea. It was not negotiated from a position of strength, so you know that Korea got something tangible out of it.
    The only alternative explantion would be that China pushed Korea out of the way in the year before the Olympics. I agree with others that this outcome is plausible. Either way I don’t like the way Bush gave in to Clinton era diplomacy.

  26. “In the early years of Bush’s approach to Korea, the strategy was clear- do NOT talk to the enemy.”
    Really, I don’t think this is true. Bush’s approach was that there would be no one-on-one talks with NK. He insisted on the so-called 6 party talks, US, NK, SK, Japan, China and Russia. This is the primary difference between Clinton’s approach and the Bush policy.

  27. Did I miss something back then? Clinton was really willing to go to war over NK’s nukes? There’s no way I would have missed that. Could I?
    Bennett, look at the history. Clinton started massive war games in South Korea. Then he announced that nukes pointed at the old USSR would be turned to N. Korea and had the UN enact sanctions on N. Korea. According to William Perry, through early 1994 his team planned a massive war against N. Korea based out of US bases in Japan that had the general support of the White House.
    I don’t know if the last claim was true, but Bush didnt do the sanctions until late 2006.

  28. Bennett has this right. Bush never said he wouldn’t try to negotiate an end to the impasse, but that he wouldn’t do it bilaterally. If we have a robust verification regime in place, this would show that Bush’s insistence on a regional diplomatic approach worked.
    What would be the alternative — war? While we’re fighting in Iraq? That would have been a rather empty threat.

  29. Right-on, I’m not questioning the idea that Clinton may have done some sabre rattling (Bush did the same thing with NK, in 2002 I think, major war games with SK). The US never takes war off the table with anyone and often we put on a show. But that doesn’t mean that the US is truly willing to go to war or that we’ve fooled the enemy into thinking we will.
    At best, we’ve created some uncertainty…not just in the minds of someone like Kim Jong Il (who might very welcome war with the US) but in other major players in the region. Players who need to step up and do their part to avert war.
    War with NK would have little impact on the US (in terms of loss of US civilian life). It would have a really horrific impact on SK, our ally. And possibly on Japan, another ally, as well. I just don’t believe any US President is ever going to be willing to start a war with NK when our allies are at risk like that.

  30. People never understood why Rice was relatively patient and willing to wait out the North Koreans: the payoff was a reasonably harmless peace treaty with a dying regime. This pisses off John Bolton and Michael Ledeen, who don’t want us having any relations with KJI at all (because KJI is a monstrous SOB), but in fact, peace on the Korean peninsula effectively makes the North an economic appendage of the South.
    This allows us to finally cut the cord with the ROK and free up a full division of troops. The notion that we should still be defending South Korea while they have a full draft army available is a joke.
    It was done by not getting into the room with them outside of the Six Party Talks framework. Smart.

  31. “The notion that we should still be defending South Korea while they have a full draft army available is a joke.”
    I always kind of thought we had a dual purpose in having our troops there, defense of SK and a presence in the region for whatever else might come up. A little hazy on our bases in the region but if we’re not in SK where’s the next closest place? Maybe I’m totally off track.

  32. First Libya gave up it’s nuc program and the remainder of it is now at Oak Ridge, Tn with several tons of (nuc) material from Iraq. It will soon be joined by N.K.’s nuc program. Iran may hold out for a while, but then no one is really concerned with them since China is they only one in danger. The MooSlimes will destroy themselves with a nuclear accident in a short period of time since between a billion of them they have half of one brain. Living in the 21st century, with a 17th century mindset, and playing with nuclear weapons is not a smart thing to do. If they fail to do themselves in, one small nuc weapon dropped from on high will start a chain reaction.

  33. Bennett, Okinawa? It’s really a great base, in spite of Murtha thinking we need to go there.
    And, according to General MacArthur, the “gem” in the Pacific, because of the way it sits, is Taiwan. Formerly Formosa.
    Also, I’ pretty sure the nuke program the North Koreans had, fizzled. Especially, after that “train wreck accident.”
    While I do agree with you, Section 9, Rice’s waiting and such has been harmless. I’ll probably “ditto” her dance with Chirac; because Olmert wasn’t gonna head East and decapitate Assad.
    The real problems with Korea are with the Koreans, themselves. Led by fruitcake despots (both sides).
    For some reason, too, I think Ill had been ill. And, is now dead. But despots don’t show up dead in the news. Castro hasn’t, either. Doesn’t mean these guys are “stable enough” for a press conference. (Ill in korea, used stand-ins. Which is also a big trick done by the Chinese.)
    And, yes, it is a coup! This President has done a marvelous job of maneuvering our ship of state in hostile waters. And, those hostile waters have been the lavoratories in DC.
    I still don’t think the Bonkey’s get it. But if there’s a brain dead party out there; it’s the liberal elites. NOT the republican party!
    I’m rather amazed at the bold moves. (Like picking the Twin Cities for their republican convention.) It’s like the decisions you make when you’re playing poker. (And, you do, in fact, have good cards.)

  34. I have a few questions:
    (1) Did Ambassador Hill have to dance with the crazed dictator like Madeline Albright?
    (2) Did Hill have to wear a stylish broach?
    (3) Did Hill have to stipulate the Kim was charming and a great dancer (Like Albright)?
    (4) Is Hill being snowballed like Albright and her “Agreed Framework?”
    It would be nice if this is the real deal, but our long history with the NK’s and with Kim suggests that this is just another bit of Albright-like stupidity.

  35. All I want to know is what it costs us? You know Kim did not do this for free………..
    So far that is the only detial missing from all the news, mainstream and blogs etc.
    When do we get the “rest of the story”
    -Paul Harvey

  36. “It would be nice if this is the real deal, but our long history with the NK’s and with Kim suggests that this is just another bit of Albright-like stupidity.”
    Then it will be South Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Russian-like stupidity too because we’re not at the table alone.
    “All I want to know is what it costs us?”
    If it results in the verifiable cessation of NK’s nuclear program without war and loss of life, does it matter? Or is there some cost too high to justify that result? I doubt we’ve ceded any US territory.

  37. Dave – exactly right. The West is pretty much soft for blackmail these days, and I’m fairly confident that we’ll get shaken down every time Dear Leader starts running short of Chivas.

  38. Except for sticking to specific core beliefs, a president is at the mercy of his advisors.
    It seems clear to me that the realists (old guard) at State have won the battle on foreign policy.
    Their ideas seem to directly contradict the previous policies.
    This leads me to the question: What are President Bush’s core beliefs regarding American foreign policy? What in his gut would have him stick it to a country like Reagan telling Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall.

  39. How many times is this that North Korea has said that they’re giving up their nuclear program? Four? Five? Color me skeptical. I’ll believe it when it actually happens.

  40. “What in his gut would have him stick it to a country like Reagan telling Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall.”
    You mean like when Bush told Saddam that he and his sons had 48 hours to leave Iraq or we would invade? Stick it to a country like that? Or is that too wishy-washy?

  41. Aside from the fact that NK promises, like moonflowers, tend to wilt in the light of day, I would point out that the phrase “it will represent a real and peaceful victory for the US” is part of the deeply unhelpful view of ‘winning’ and ‘losing’ that many Americans take.
    If NK does indeed end its nuclear program it is not a ‘win’ for the US. It is a ‘win’ for the world, for international relations, for adherence to international agreements, etc. By casting international relations in terms of who ‘wins’ it makes it harder for good solutions to be found- because nobody wants to be seen as the ‘loser’. You can be absolutely certain that NK has **not** agreed to any deal which makes it look like a ‘loser’, even if you can’t see what the quid pro quo was.
    Our relationships with the rest of the world will be improved by a little less posturing about how anything that goes the way we want it to is a ‘victory’ for us. Sometimes we are like the kid on the playground who says ‘ha ha- I win!’ with the implied – or even stated – ‘you lose!’. We should be bigger than that.

  42. Exactly what one would expect the Dear Leader to do if he suspects an imminent nuclear terrorist attack on the West. Statements from retired generals, investigative journalists, terrorism experts, and others (Cheney, Mueller, Tenet, Woolsey, Chertoff, William Perry, Graham Allison, etc, etc) suggest the inevitability of al Qaeda’s American Hiroshima plan to nuke several cities in the US. NSPD 51, events such as the clearing of Taliban/al Qaeda camps in Waziristan, MI5’s UK Hiroshima threat leak, Zawahiri’s “end of the West” comments, Iran’s belligerence and other indicators lead me to believe that this attack is coming very soon. The facts are there. The red flags are there. A September 10th psychological block is all that stands in the way of our seeing the real threat for what it is…unthinkably nightmarish.

  43. Beware of lame duck Presidents making agreements with North Korea.
    The lever on NoKo is not the US, but China: the country that saved NoKo, supplied it and then propped it up. Last year NoKo was stealing food trains from China, because the food on them just wasn’t enough. Beyond its fledgling nuclear capacity, NoKo operates a tiny, but highly able manufacturing capability. This allows them to do more than just create supernotes, but has put them into a main supplier for knock-off pharmaceuticals for the Asian sex trade that are, according to Japanese reports, of higher quality and drug activity than what the West produces for those drugs. Likewise NoKo has been in the narcotics trade and has slowly switched its role from being ‘niche supplier’ to becoming ‘majority supplier’ of same for the organized crime syndicates in the Far East. Again, with those the quality is far, far better than any crime organization can do and has put NoKo into the mover’s position in the narcotics underworld.
    What is interesting, however, is that NoKo did not, apparently, use the AQ Khan blueprints for nuclear devices, but went with pride and home-crafting. They have, however, entered into agreements with Iran for long-range missile technology and testing, the latter of which the West finds hard to track thus making Iran’s missile technology harder to categorize. Syria purchased the NoDong missile and technology from NoKo in the mid-1990’s and that serves as their basis for improvement of their existing missile lines. As there is an active alliance between Iran and Syria, the idea that there is not some form of ‘triangular trade’ going on would be a surprise. Each of the players can get what they need out of that set-up, with Syria producing yellowcake and small quantities of highly refined uranium ore very close to final prep for separation. And Iran, of course, has oil, plus its entree to multiple areas with its Hezbollah operations in: Lebanon, Bosnia, Algeria, Chechnya and the Tri-Border area of S. America. Busts in the LA Basin a couple of years ago had Hezbollah agents selling gray/black market goods that they had gotten from Far Eastern organized crime. Mind you they can also back flow their own goods like arms, narcotics and pirated software as part of the overall picture.
    Are we getting an idea of the role that NoKo plays in this? A known player in the organized crime world opening its contacts to other organizations, like Iranian Hezbollah? Supporting the development of capabilities of other Nations hostile to the US and their support of terrorism on a global scale?
    Nuclear devices are a prime concern *not* because NoKo has ICBMs or reliable long-range subs and bombers. It is a threat because of its interaction with oranizations in the transnational terrorism, international organized crime and international banking that put it in a position to leverage each to their benefit. And as to the nuclear work… will NoKo tell us if anyone else has helped them? Or if they shared their plans with Syria or Iran, so they could learn what does and does not work with same? Can you trust the Magic Kingdom of Mr. Kim to come clean on this?
    China could shut the place down, but NoKo has one thing that it has used as a threat: millions of starving North Koreans released into China as a humanitarian crisis and to destabilize China. That is why China opened up the gas pipelines to NoKo after shutting them down last year. That is a *real* threat to China, and not just a PR threat, either.
    After any handshakes with North Korea, make sure you get your arm back: they don’t stop at fingers.

  44. The link to Bolton’s recent column that I referred to at the top of this comments page is:
    Jeff – I wasn’t necessarily insinuating anything about John Bolton. I’m asking a question that begs to be asked: Bolton seemed to be supporting the diplomacy with North Korea and the Six Party Talks while he was the USA’s UN Ambassador. But then almost the day after he left the President’s employ, he immediately started bad mouthing the whole affair. That automatically raises the issue of sour grapes as one possible explanation for his about-face. The other possible explanation is that after Bolton left the Bush Administration, its diplomatic team somehow lost its way.
    I don’t know. I’m not an expert. I’m just asking.
    And the answer to this question, which involves a serious security concern for the USA, should be addressed on the basis of specifics.
    For instance, we’ve obviously given the NoKos something for their concessions. Are our concessions permanent, or are they quickly and easily reversible should the NoKos not deliver on their promises? What kind of verification process do we have? Are the Chinese going to remain part of the verification team (in which case, I would think the NoKos would be much less successful in cheating, as the Chinese are in a position to immediately tighten the screws on NoKo in ways that we cannot).
    I read Bolton’s piece, and it basically accuses Chris Hill of being a pathetic idiot (particularly the WSJ headline that states “feckless diplomacy”, which Bolton implies but does not come right out and say). To me, such criticism couched in such language sounds rather pointed and almost personal in nature, regardless of the substance of Bolton’s comments.
    Personally, I think we ought to give the benefit of the doubt to this President and his team, because he and they proved that the 6 Party Talks was a far more effective method than was the bilateral talks of Jimmy the Peanut Man. Pres. Bush suffered withering criticism from the Dems over his insistance on involving the Chinese. It is rather obvious that without Chinese involvement and ownership of the process, our only other alternatives were to completely cave in to the NoKos, or to launch a preemptive war which would have obliterated one of our closest allies – i.e., South Korea, whose capital city is only a few miles from thousands of NoKo artillery pieces arrayed along the DMZ.
    That Bush slashed the Gordian Knot when everybody said it couldn’t be done seems to me to be reason enough to trust his team not to be Peanut Man Wannabes.

  45. ajacksonian – your concern about diplomatic efforts by lame duck Presidents is acknowledged.
    But GWB is no ordinary lame duck President. He’s got plenty of big issues on his plate and he’s attacking them all with great effort and serious purpose. Agree or disagree with GWB’s policies, but he is no lame duck in the way he is carrying out his duties as President.
    GWB’s aggressively fighting off the defeatist Dems on Iraq with a risky troop surge and new counterinsurgency strategy – he’s actually there this moment in the middle of Anbar Province, no less!
    GWB did his best to resolve a longstanding American weakness on immigration and border control – hate his solutions if you will, but credit him for trying to solve a problem no other President has attempted to deal with for the last 20 years. GWB’s also actively dealing with the credit crunch with targeted relief to residential mortgageholders in danger of foreclosure. And he’s continuing his aggressive diplomacy with the NoKos and the other four members of the Six Party Talks.
    If that’s a lame duck, then Bill Clinton should (not: no “would”) have been proud to be that activist during either of his two terms … two terms that were headlined by midnight basketball, Federal funding of local police jobs, “don’t ask/don’t tell”, HillaryCare!, feckless responses to multiple Al Qaeda terror attacks on US soil, various embassies, and a US Navy warship. His pathetic responses to these determined attacks were to call in the FBI crime scene investigators, and send a couple of cruise missiles up the butts of a couple of camels in Afghanistan, and into a baby aspirin factory in the Sudan.
    When it comes to the protecting the security of the United States of America, we would do quite well for the 44th President to be as proactive as our supposed “lame duck” 43rd President is today.

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