The North Korean government said it will halt efforts to disable it nuclear facilities and consider restoring the Yongbyon reactor that can make material for atomic bombs. It charges the United States with violating a disarmament deal. “We have decided to immediately suspend disabling our nuclear facilities,” the KCNA news agency quoted a foreign ministry official as saying. According to Lee Dong-bok, of the CSIS think tank, “this is a last-ditch effort trying to somehow influence U.S. presidential politics.” The announcement came days after China’s President Hu Jintao left South Korea where he promised to get tough with the North if it did not move toward giving up its nuclear weapons.
As usual, President Bush’s “get tough policy” of threatening other nations unless they fulfill his requirements played a role in the North Korean decision. Instead of offering support and encouragement to North Korea for its actions in working toward nuclear disarmament, he made clear that nation’s name would not be removed from the list of terrorist enemies. Professor Koh Yu-hwan, of Seoul’s Dongguk University believes it is “another card at the negotiation table to urge the U.S. to remove it from the terrorism blacklist as soon as possible.” The Chinese Foreign Ministry urged nations to remain calm and continue effort to work for nuclear disarmament.
In June, North Korea toppled the cooling tower at its plutonium producing reactor in a symbolic gesture to show its commitment to the nuclear deal. The Bush reaction was not to respond with a symbolic gesture such as removing North Korea from the terrorist list. Instead, he made known the U.S. would play tough. Isn’t this always the Bush approach?