Bush/Rice–Be Tough Or Be Positive With North Korea?

Secretary of State Rice took a firm stand on how the United States should deal with the North Korean government. She stated the Pyongang regime is not one the “United States is prepared to engage broadly.” and is running out of time to present a complete list by December 31 of all nuclear programs in the country. “It remains,” said Rice, “a country that is dangerously armed and a considerable threat on both the proliferation front and its own program.”However, the North Korean government is offering a view in which they are working closely with the United States and hope all problems are over between the two nations. Republican senators, Brownback, Kyl, Grassley, and independent Joseph Liberman urged Rice to take a tough stand and demand preconditions prior to engaging in further discussions. However, Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer urged that “whatever has occurred in the past is not occurring now,” and negotiators should focus on the present rather than becoming trapped in the past.

Ironically, the South Korean government which is probably the most threatened by any North Korea action, is proceeding in a positive direction with its northern neighbor. China is working closely with North Korea to ensure its compliance with agreements concerning ending nuclear development. But, the Bush administration can not shake its hostility and insistence that North Korea is lying or refusing to cooperate. Perhaps, a more positive approach will create a sense of trust among North Koreans and assist in their movement toward a stance in which all assistance to violent groups ends.