ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on July 1st, 2007 at 10:02 am

NK Reactor Shutdown Needs More Six Way Talks

This is all so predictable:

The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog has clarified how to monitor the shutdown of North Korea’s nuclear facility and it is now up to Pyongyang and its five negotiating partners to decide on a date, an official said on Saturday.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) official Olli Heinonen said negotiations in North Korea had achieved an understanding on how to monitor the sealing and shutdown of the Yongbyon facility.

But he stressed the timing of the long-negotiated shutdown needed consultation between North Korea and other countries in six-party talks to iron out the details.

“The next logical step is that they talk with each other and agree on technical arrangements. The IAEA doesn’t have any role on that,” Heinonen, IAEA Nuclear Safeguards Director told reporters in Beijing after several days of talks in Pyongyang.

What is so interesting about this is that there is already a date set for the reactor shutdown that was agreed upon in the February 13th agreement between the US and North Korea. In the deal North Korea agreed to shutdown their reactor 60 days from signing the deal. April 13th came and passed with no signs of North Korea shutting down their reactor without receiving first $25 million dollars in money frozen by the US Treasury Department in a Macau bank due to the money being obtained through counterfeiting and money laundering. The return of the money was never in the original agreement and was something North Korea added after signing the February 13th deal.

The US government desperate to cut a deal with Kim Jong-il bent over backwards to return Kim Jong-il’s ill gotten money, but no banks wanted to do business with North Korea; that is how dirty his money is. The US government was so desperate they asked the US Wachovia bank to launder North Korea’s money for him. Unsurprisingly Wachovia declined. So the US government was left to use the US Federal Reserve to launder his money through a Russia based bank. Even with the Federal Reserve laundering the money the Russian bank was still very hesitant about accepting the deal. Incredibly the US government went through all this hassle to launder money for Kim Jong-il and circumvent US counterfeiting laws in order to meet a demand by North Korea that was not even in the original deal. Even more incredible is the fact that the US government agreed to these demands due to a vague promise from North Korea to use the money to buy humanitarian aid. The odds of Kim Jong-il using this money to buy humanitarian aid is about equal with the odds of him dismantling his nuclear program, which is none.

It didn’t take a prophet to know that when this agreement was signed in February, Kim Jong-il had no intention of keeping it. At some point when Kim Jong-il cannot get any more concessions from the US and other six party talk members he will then shut down his reactor. This current ploy for more six party talks is just a tool for further delay and to test the waters to see how desperate the US is to get him to comply. The North Koreans know the US government is desperate for a deal and will thus demand a premium price for any concessions on their part. To the North Koreans shutting down the reactor is not a big deal because they can always kick out the IAEA inspectors and restart the reactor any time they want. They have already done it once before.

Now getting them to dismantle their nuclear program is going to be the impossible part of the February 13th deal. It is unlikely North Korea will admit to their secret uranium program as well as it is totally unlikely they will actually dismantle the nuclear weapons they currently possess. A second goal of the North Korean strategy for using the six party talks is to buy time. The more the North Koreans delay the more time they buy for their scientists and researchers to further develop their infant nuclear program and improve the capabilities of their tactical ballistic missile program. In just the past few month the North Koreans have been conducting regular missile tests of their newly developed missiles. Once the North Koreans have developed their nuclear and missile programs to a level they feel would ensure the regime’s survival from external attack they will then begin to implement the policy of Strategic Disengagement.

So why is the US government so desperate to keep this deal at all costs? The reason is to keep the myth of “progress” alive. The Bush administration is desperate for a non-military foreign policy success in order to bolster their diplomacy credentials once the eventual showdown with Iran over their nuclear program materializes. So in order to keep the myth of a “diplomacy success” alive, the Bush administration is willing to appease the North Koreans and mortgage the North Korean problem for the next US presidential administration to handle. It is 1994 all over again and this time Jimmy Carter wasn’t even needed.

However, the big difference from 1994 is that when North Korea decides to act up again under the next US presidential administration to test and see what they can get out of them, they will be playing with a much stronger hand with possession of nuclear weapons and a tactical ballistic missile program to deliver them. The payoff next time for appeasement will come at a much higher cost.

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