In the heady days of the early Bush administration when Republicans insisted they would never negotiate with any “terrorist” nation, North Korea was cited as an example of how the weak policies of the Clinton years must be replaced with tough minded George Bush. Of course, somewhere along the way, Bush decided to embrace negotiations with terrorist nations and, voila, the world now sees an end to nuclear weapon development in North Korea. Six nations signed an agreement with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea under which the “terrorist” nation has agreed to dismantle the last remaining parts of its nuclear weapon program. A team of experts will visit North Korea to verify completion of this task.
Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, who has been working on this issue, noted, “we would like the protocol to be reached within 45 days and secondly to begin verification within 45 days. We’re anticipating that and don’t see any obstacles.”
One can only wonder if George Bush will not support the candidacy of Barack Obama who agrees America must negotiate with terrorist nations.
Abdul Oadeer Khan, the master mind behind nuclear development in Pakistan told the AP in a telephone interview that President Musharraf was involved in the sale of used centrifuges to North Korea in 2000. Many experts for years have doubted Khan alone could have masterminded and carried through alone an operation requiring extensive cooperation from Pakistan security forces. He claims Musharraf had “complete knowledge of the shipment. “It was a North Korean plane and he(Musharraf) had complete knowledge about it and thee equipment.”
The use of planes and the complexity in getting the centrifuges onto them suggests some involvement of Pakistan security personnel in the sale of the equipment to North Korea. It was the same Pakistan Intelligence forces who created the Taliban and aided their initial conquest of Afghanistan. Musharraf is now placed in an awkward position given his constant cries his country must cooperate with the United States.
The United States government has informed Japan it intends to strike the name of North Korea from its list of nations that support terrorism provided North Koreans file a statement describing its nuclear facilities and activities. The government of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda is pleased and not pleased with the American decision. Japan has been insisting that North Korea must provide information concerning Japanese citizens who were abducted and brought to North Korea, but there has not been adequate response to Japanese requests for information.
Prime Minister Fukuda is in a difficult position, as he noted to the press, “if the nuclear problem will be resolved, isn’t that something desirable also for our country? It’s something we should welcome.” But, accepting the North Koreans without obtaining information about the kidnapped Japanese citizens is a political hot potato.
The decision by America to go it alone on this issue simply makes it more likely Japan will find its own foreign policy for Asia and cease always trailing behind that of America.
In 2001, upon assuming office, President Bush made it clear he would not follow the ideas of Bill Clinton who negotiated with North Korea. Early this year, Bush told the Israel parliament, it was appeasement to negotiate with terrorist nations. How times have changed.
The United States and Israel insist North Korea provided assistance to Syria in order to begin construction of a nuclear facility. Syria’s Al Kibar reactor was destroyed in an Israel raid on September 6, 2007. US Central Intelligence Director, Michael Hayden, said the reactor was “similar” in size and technology to North Korea’s Yongbyon reactor and it would have had the capacity to produce sufficient plutonium for one or two nuclear weapons. At the six nation talks in September, 2007, North Korea agreed to disable all existing nuclear facilities and reaffirmed its pledge not to transfer nuclear materials, technology or information to other nations.
Both North Korea and Syria deny cooperating on any nuclear exchange, but there is sufficient evidence to doubt their statements. North Korea wants its name removed from the American terrorist list, but conducting such covert assistance to third party nations to facilitate construction of nuclear weapons will not result in that removal. Perhaps, it is time to ask the UN to send an investigating team to Syria and investigate the site and discuss with Syrian leaders the importance of not attempting to construct nuclear weapons.
The war of words continues to escalate in North and South Korea as both sides found themselves responding to comments by the other. North Korea was upset at comments made by a South Korean general who said his nation would militarily respond if attacked from the north. The paranoid North Korean government interpreted his remarks as a threat and warned they would unleash a sea of fire that would destroy South Korea. Part of the problem stems from the election to the office of president of Lee Myung-bak, who had campaigned on a platform of being more pragmatic and clear in dealing with North Korea. His comments were interpreted in the North as representing a shift from the past 10 years in which South Korean governments have attempted to develop positive economic relations with the Communist North.
The South Korean president should never forget he is dealing with a paranoid government and they must be handled with care and diplomatic use of language. North Korea fired som missiles into the sea to prove it could fire missiles. The best response is silence and ignoring the action.
Issues of nulcear weapons in North Korea are best addressed by the international community including China and the United States. There is no need for South Korea to assume some type of leadership role, let the world handle it.