Header Ads

SEO tools
  • Breaking News

    Kim Jong-un Locks Hard Talks With South Korea

     Kim Jong Un met senior South Korean officials for the first time to pursue reunification 3/6/18. 
    From the day he took office, President Trump has vowed not to repeat what he regarded as the cardinal error of his predecessors in dealing with North Korea. He would not get drawn into a lengthy negotiation in which the United States offers concessions that keep the North Korean regime alive, while the North Koreans retain the key elements of their nuclear arsenal. “Whether you look at the Clinton administration, or the Bush administration or the Obama administration, it never worked out,” he said in the Oval Office on Tuesday. “That was the time to have settled this problem — not now.” Whatever one thinks of Mr. Trump’s version of history, he now faces a prospect uncannily similar to that confronted by Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. 

    Several times over the years, negotiations between the United States and North Korea have appeared successful. Each time, the agreement fell apart.
    North Korea’s offer to put its nuclear weapons on the bargaining table opens the door to negotiations of unpredictable length and inevitable complexity. And Mr. Trump will surely be pressured to make concessions, starting with North Korea’s perpetual demand that the United States withdraw all American troops from the Korean Peninsula. Mr. Trump would also be negotiating alongside South Korea, a close ally that is hungry for a diplomatic rapprochement with the North. That could constrain the maneuvering room for a president who has oscillated between issuing bellicose threats toward North Korea and voicing vague hopes that he and its leader, Kim Jong-un, could sit down and broker a deal.

    South Korea
    South Korean President Moon Jae-in seeks talks with Kim Jong-un.
    In his remarks on Tuesday, Mr. Trump leavened his familiar complaints about the situation he inherited from his predecessors with the hope that the latest North Korean overture might be different. “I’d like to be optimistic,” he said. “I think maybe this has gone further than anyone’s taken it before.” But for Mr. Trump, who is used to being at the white-hot center of most issues, the diplomatic dance between North and South Korea has put him in an unaccustomed place: on the sidelines. At every step of the way, Mr. Kim has set the agenda — reaching out to the South Korean people during his New Year’s speech, appealing to the conciliatory instincts of its progressive president, Moon Jae-in, and exploiting the pageantry of the Winter Olympics to stage a charm offensive that Mr. Trump tried, with mixed results, to counteract. Mr. Kim also enters any negotiation with considerable leverage. 

    Related image
    Six-party talks resume in Beijing with top envoys representing their respective countries. 
    North Korea has made such strides in its nuclear and ballistic missile program in recent years that experts say it could agree to a pause in the testing of missiles, while it conducts negotiations, without really damaging its drive to be a bona fide nuclear weapons state. "They use negotiations to buy time," said Christopher R. Hill, who negotiated with North Korea for several years during the Bush administration. Still, Mr. Hill noted that it was the first time in more than eight years that North Korea had opened the door to negotiating on its nuclear program. Given that, he said the Trump administration should explore the prospect seriously, first by thoroughly debriefing South Korea’s envoys. “We need to chart a course between negative churlishness and irrational exuberance,” Mr. Hill said. Diplomacy between the United States and North Korea has gone through cycles of long stagnation, followed by brief bursts of hope and then disappointment, typically after North Korea reneged on any agreement. Those collapses have sometimes been accompanied by what Americans have called cheating, but what the North has called prudence.

     In October 1994, Mr. Clinton concluded what was perhaps the most ambitious nuclear agreement ever reached between Washington and Pyongyang — called, appropriately, the Agreed Framework. Under the deal, North Korea halted construction of two nuclear reactors that the United States believed would be used to produce fuel for a nuclear bomb. In return, the White House pledged to give North Korea two alternative nuclear power reactors that could not be used in a weapons program — as well as fuel to tide it over before the new reactors were ready. The 1994 accord blocked the North from reprocessing plutonium from its reactor at Yongbyon. The North complied, but then purchased equipment to enrich uranium, another pathway to a bomb, from Abdul Qadeer Khan, one of the fathers of the Pakistani bomb.

    The agreement headed off a threat by North Korea to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and eased what had been one of the tensest periods on the Korean Peninsula since the armistice that ended the Korean War. The Clinton administration tried to expand the Agreed Framework after North Korea began testing ballistic missiles in 1998. That effort culminated with a trip to Pyongyang by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright in 2000, and what another American official, Wendy Sherman, later wrote were negotiations that came “tantalizingly close” to a broader agreement. But no deal was consummated before Mr. Bush took office, and he initiated his own policy review. The disclosure by American intelligence agencies that North Korea was developing a capability to enrich uranium led the Bush administration to conclude that the Agreed Framework was not worth upholding, and construction on the new reactors was suspended. At the end of 2002, North Korea expelled inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), after restarted its nuclear inspection on the facilities and announced it was withdrawing from the nonproliferation treaty. 

    The Agreed Framework was dead. From then on, negotiations occurred within a framework of six parties: North Korea, the United States, South Korea, China, Russia and Japan. Those talks went on fitfully from 2002 to 2005, when North Korea promised to “abandon nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs” in return for “security guarantees.” North Korea’s call for “security guarantees” in return for denuclearization is nothing new. It has been the basis of almost all previous negotiations with the United States. And it has usually been one of the reasons those efforts have floundered. After years of haggling over how to verify the North Korean pledge, the six-party talks broke down in 2009, leaving Mr. Obama to deal with a North Korea that had made progress in its nuclear program and remained opaque and suspicious of the outside world. 

    The Obama administration showed little appetite for reviving the talks, and instead embarked on a policy of steadily tightening economic pressure on North Korea that it called “strategic patience.” But American diplomats began quietly meeting with their North Korean counterparts. On Feb. 29, 2012, the two sides announced a deal — the so-called Leap Day Agreement — under which North Korea would halt operations at its Yongbyon nuclear reactor and allow in inspectors to verify its suspension of nuclear and missile testing. In return, the United States pledged to offer food aid to North Korea. Within a month North Korea was threatening to launch a satellite, effectively nullifying the deal.

    To a remarkable extent, diplomats said, Mr. Kim is simply reusing the playbook used by his father, Kim Jong-il, and grandfather, Kim Il-sung. “Look at the pattern,” said Daniel R. Russel, who served as assistant secretary of state for East Asian Affairs in the Obama administration. “Drive the fear factor to a crescendo; at the maximum moment, play the ‘maybe I can make the pain go away’ game; and then dangle something vague and undefined.” But as Daryl G. Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, noted, “The difference between March 2018 and 1994 or 2006 or 2012 is that the North Koreans’ price may have gone up significantly.

    No comments

    Post Top Ad