March 5, 2004
'PROGRESS' BUT 'NO BREAKTHROUGH'
** Global dailies see no
"substantial progress" in ending the DPRK's nuclear program.
** Left-leaning observers
dub the agreement to hold additional talks a "concrete achievement."
** The entire issue remains
a "task mainly for the Chinese."
Pyongyang must 'dismantle all its nuclear programs, not just
freeze them'-- Japanese and
conservative dailies worldwide concluded that the six-party talks in Beijing
"failed to make any concrete and substantial progress" in achieving
the dismantlement of the North's nuclear program." Tokyo's moderate Yomiuri said the
"blame lies with the Stalinist state's refusal to make any
concessions"; Seoul's conservative Segye Ilbo added that the talks
failed due to Pyongyang's "lackadaisical" attitude. Canada's leading Globe and Mail
reflected widespread agreement that the North must "dismantle all of its
nuclear program," because they "cannot be allowed to posses the
hardware of mass murder." Several
papers demanded a "rigorous verification" of any agreement with the
"extremely fraudulent" North; Germany's center-right Frankfurter
Allgemeine prioritized "comprehensive international monitoring"
because Kim Jong-il "broke the commitments he made in the past."
'Saber-rattling will have a counter-productive effect'-- Chinese and liberal outlets in Asia were
more upbeat, saying the talks achieved "progress that should not be
underestimated." Pro-PRC Macau
Daily News contended that "as long as the talks continue...differences
can be patched up and success will come."
Official China Youth Daily added that the negotiations
"discussed the most crucial and substantial problems," marking an
"important step" towards a solution.
Several analysts termed the commitment for additional talks "at an
early date" a "ray of hope" for an eventual pact between the
North and the U.S. South Korea's
moderate Hankook Ilbo backed "covert, behind-the-scenes bilateral
contact" between the two countries; pro-government Seoul Shinmun
held that "since it is impossible to expect a great breakthrough
overnight, it is greatly important to continue with the talks," adding
that the U.S. should show "greater flexibility."
'China has done an excellent job as host and mediator'-- A number of papers across the ideological
spectrum stressed Beijing's leading role in the North Korea nuclear issue,
apart from serving as the host and chairman of the talks. A German writer referred to China's influence
on Pyongyang by predicting that "since China does not want to see nuclear
weapons in Korea...Kim Jong-il will have to accept very unpleasant
truths." Hong Kong's independent South
China Morning Post highlighted the "diplomatic aplomb" China has
displayed and the "emergence of China as a new diplomatic
player." A separate Hong Kong
outlet emphasized the "strengthened U.S.-China cooperation"
demonstrated not only in the six-party talks, but also by Beijing's
"important role in U.S. counter-terrorism."
EDITOR: Ben Goldberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: This
analysis was based on 25 reports from 7 countries over 27 February - 5 March
2004. Editorial excerpts from each
country are listed from the most recent date.
GERMANY: "Suspicion Is
Peter Strum argued in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine
(3/1): "The talks on North Korea's
nuclear program continue. This is the
most important outcome of the second negotiating round in Beijing. All sides involved are aware that North
Korea, not the United States, is the problem.... North Korea obviously tries to raise the
price for giving up its nuclear program.
But maybe Kim Jong-il is miscalculating this time: Concessions that the
others accepted in 1994, will no longer be enough this time. Kim broke the commitments he made in the
past. This is why a new rule must be
stricter. A comprehensive international
monitoring would be one precondition for an agreement. At the end of this process must be a nuclear
weapon-free zone on the Korean peninsula.
It is a difficult task to make this clear to the dictator. It will be a task mainly for the
Chinese. But since China does not want
to see nuclear weapons in Korea, too, Kim Jong-il will have to accept very
unpleasant truths in the coming days."
"Movement In The Nuclear Row"
Harald Maass judged in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau
(3/1): "Even though a breakthrough
was not achieved, there is movement in the nuclear row with Pyongyang.... Nothing speaks for greater confidence in
North Korea than in the past. But the
U.S. should, nevertheless, conclude a new nuclear treaty with North Korea as
soon as possible. North Korea's nuclear
facilities have been without control for more than a year. The longer the negotiations, the greater is
the possibility that the regime will really turn into a nuclear power. Even though the 1994 agreement was
undermined, it created a certain degree of stability. The well-known nuclear facilities were
mothballed, and international inspectors had limited access. The U.S. will not achieve more in a new
agreement, regardless of what will be laid down in a new text."
"Constraints To Achieve A Consensus"
Ewald Stein declared in business-oriented Handelsblatt of
Duesseldorf (3/1): "The outcome of
the six-party talks can be interpreted as progress that should not be
underestimated.... The insight that is
important and creates optimism is obvious among all parties is to be among the
losers if the controversy continues.
This is mainly true for North Korea.
North Korea is faced with a famine.
Without external assistance, the country is faced with pauperization
that can lead to chaos despite the brutal methods of the security agents. Neither the leadership in Pyongyang nor the
governments in Seoul and Tokyo have any interest in such a development. South Korea and Japan have the same
priority: security of the region. There is a reason why both countries offer
luxurious material assistance.... But in
the end, the most important actors are Pyongyang and Washington. Even though the Americans will repeat their
demand for nuclear abstinence, they will have to realize that saber-rattling
will have a counter-productive effect.
Since the most important partners in Europe still act in a recalcitrant
way due to the Iraq war, Washington cannot offend other important partners in
the Pacific Basin, since they are heading for a consensus with
Pyongyang.... It could also be positive
for...Washington if it buries the term 'rogue state' and creates the necessary
acceptance for the North Korean leadership that is intent on having a good
RUSSIA: "Putting A 'Good Bomb' On It"
Andrei Ivanov and Alexander Vorontsov wrote in reformist
business-oriented Kommersant (3/1)
"On the whole, the participants in the talks evaluated their
results in a positive way, admitting, it is true, that no breakthrough has
occurred.... The DPRK does not intend to
give up building an atomic power plant--otherwise it will forever be dependent
on foreign, including American, fuel supplies for the thermal power station. That
is why Washington's tough demand that the atomic energy programs be curtailed
may backfire--Pyongyang will revoke its promise to freeze the military nuclear
program. And then the nuclear crisis will make a new, more dangerous
"How To Come To Terms With Pyongyang"
Vasily Mikheyev stated in reformist Vremya Novostei
(3/1): "Pyongyang has solved its
tactical tasks in Beijing. The very fact of negotiations is already a gain of
political time--for instance, in the hope of a democratic victory at the
presidential elections in the United States. For indeed the DPRK has already
been able to come to agreement with the representatives of that party ten years
ago. Economic assistance, already received from China and promised by South
Korea as reward for participating in the meeting, the economic assistance will
help the DPRK to close the gaps in its economy on the eve of the spring sowing
campaign. Pyongyang has somewhat improved its international image,
demonstrating a readiness for negotiations. On the other hand, it has kept the
image of an 'external enemy' for domestic propaganda. The other participants in consultations have
remained face to face with the outstanding North Korean nuclear problem. The
fact is not that the general final document in writing has failed to be
adopted. The issue is not that the precise date for continuing the talks has
not been set. The issue is not that the agreement on establishing (so far not
yet the establishment as such) a working group of a "low level",
which will sit in session between the meetings of the six, may turn out to be
only some diplomatic bureaucratization of the negotiating process. The problem
above all lies in that the five interlocutors of Pyongyang so far lack a clear
notion of how to realistically ensure a nuclear disarmament of the DPRK."
"No Cause For Despondency"
The English-language, expatriate-oriented Khaleej
Times held (3/1): "As we earlier noticed, the negotiations held in
Beijing for examining the nuclear dossier of North Korea did not bring about a
final solution to the crisis this time, with each party adhering to its
previous stand. The U.S. insists the
North Koreans must give up their nuclear programme, while the North Koreans
doggedly seek assurances to bring the American campaign to an end. Despite the genuine
efforts of the other parties involved in the negotiations, namely Russia, South
Korea, China and Japan, towards proposing more workable suggestions to end the
crisis and offering hopeful suggestions to urge North Korea to yield to the
U.S. demands including the supply of energy sources, all this was not
sufficient for a positive step to be taken or a constructive outcome to happen.
However, and in spite of the absence of any discernible progress, the collapse
or failure of talks has not been announced.
The only ray of hope is represented in the next third meeting to be held
at least at an early date, compared to the first two meetings, which had a
six-month gap. Meanwhile, the holding of the U.S. elections will give a
powerful thrust to the negotiations, especially now that the Bush
administration is earnestly looking forward to notching up some foreign-policy
victories. Needless to say, North Korea as well is seeking an amicable
settlement of the long-drawn-out crisis."
CHINA: “Resolution ‘Road
Map’ For DPRK Nuclear Issue Begins To Take Shape"
Shi Hongtao commented in official Communist
Youth League-run China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao)
(3/1): “Although the talks did not
obviously reduce the U.S.-DPRK divergence, a third round of talks has been set
for the end of June, a working group will be set up, and a mechanism for the
talks has been confirmed. The peace
‘Road Map’ for the DPRK nuclear issue has begun to take shape.... The second round of talks made an important
step toward a peaceful solution of the nuclear issue. The talks discussed the most crucial and
substantial problems, and although the U.S.-DPRK divergence is still as before,
they are clearer about each other’s bottom lines. In the practical and flexible environment of
the talks, the U.S. and DPRK calmly conducted negotiation. One senior American official expressed on
February 28 that the Six-Party Talks were very successful.... There were five achievements made in the
talks: first, the promotion of substantive discussion; second, clarification of
continued measures to solve the nuclear issue and other concerns; third,
issuance of the first joint document since the Six-Party Talks started; fourth,
establishment of a date for the third round of the Six-Party Talks; fifth, the
decision to establish a working group and regularize the Six-Party Talks.”
CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS):
Frank Ching wrote in the independent English-language South
China Morning Post (3/3): "The
second round of the six-party talks in Beijing on North Korea's nuclear weapons
program went off relatively well, even though there was no breakthrough. And while the U.S. and North Korea may not
agree on much, both agreed that China had done an excellent job as host and
mediator. Pyongyang and Washington are
still far apart--so far, indeed, that the two could not agree on a joint
statement at the end of the talks, forcing China to issue a chairman's
statement instead.... One concrete
achievement of this round was an agreement to hold another session before the
end of June. This contrasts starkly with
the situation after the first round, when North Korea said it would not take
part in any further sessions. Clearly,
all the parties feel that having a forum in which they can express their views
is useful.... So far, China has been
overseeing the delicate negotiating process with diplomatic aplomb. We are witnessing the emergence of China as a
new diplomatic player on the world stage, one whose role is at this point much
appreciated by the international community.
But the road ahead is arduous, and one false step could undo all the
work it has done so far."
"Six-party Talks Succeed In Maintaining Dialogues"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked
(2/29): "No one ever expected that
the new round of six-party talks would result in any major breakthroughs. People just hoped that the talks would help
create a permanent mechanism to continue contacts and discussions. The establishment of a working committee is
an important step, which will be helpful in coordinating all parties'
stances. Russian representatives see the
establishment of the working committee as a 'big achievement' of the
talks.... During the last six-party
talks, they were able to set the goal of denuclearization in the Korean
Peninsula. This time, they began
dialogue on some substantial issues. All
parties showed their sincere desire to settle the DPRK nuclear issue in a
peaceful manner. Arriving at consensus
happens bit by bit and the momentum is building. Even though the progress of the talks is slow
and the achievements are few, as long as the talks continue and all parties are
sincere and patient, their differences can be patched up and success will come
sooner or later."
"Geopolitics Facilitates Sino-U.S. Cooperation"
Independent Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily News noted
(2/28): "If you pay attention to
the six-party talks, you can see changes in Sino-U.S. diplomatic relations and
the political situation in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.... China prevailing over Taiwan on the DPRK
issue is not the result of a single factor but of various factors. Apart from the DPRK, China is close to
Afghanistan, Iran, etc. Thus, China
plays an important role in U.S. counter-terrorism. This is why the two countries have the
opportunity to engage in more comprehensive cooperation. Taiwan's situation and the U.S. attitude are
inseparable. Even the situation in Hong
Kong has an effect on China's foreign affairs.
The DPRK situation will not change in the short term and the fight
against terrorism will last for a long time.
All these factors have strengthened U.S.-China cooperation. And this may have already caused fundamental
changes in the relations between China, Hong Kong and Taiwan."
JAPAN: "New Laws On N.
Korea Add Arrows To Govt Quiver"
Top circulation moderate Yomiuri
contended (3/4): "To play hardball
with North Korea, Japan should accumulate as many bargaining chips as
possible.... All political parties
should unite in working to resolve the dispute. No progress was made at the
recent six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear program. The blame lies with
the Stalinist state's refusal to make any concessions at all during the
negotiations.... If North Korea meant to
say that the abduction dispute would never be resolved unless headway was made
in ending disagreement over North Korea's nuclear program, then Pyongyang's
attitude on the abduction issue cannot be tolerated. For months, Japan has
insisted on a comprehensive solution to the nuclear, missile and abduction
issues. However, North Korea should immediately and unconditionally accommodate
a Japanese demand for the eight family members of the five repatriated abductees
to be allowed to visit or emigrate to Japan....
Hinting at economic sanctions against the communist country could
adversely affect efforts to open another round of six-nation talks when a date
has yet to be set for such negotiations."
"Don't Ease Pressure On DPRK!"
Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri editorialized
(2/29): "Except for an agreement to
hold another round of talks before the end of June, no substantial progress was
made during last week's six-way talks in Beijing on the North Korean nuclear
standoff. The DPRK stated that it would end its nuclear weapons program if the
US abandons its policy of hostility toward Pyongyang. The North also denied the existence of a
highly enriched uranium program. If the
issue of the HEU program is not addressed, future six-way talks are likely to
come to a standstill. The US, Japan,
South Korea, China and Russia should join hands in pursuing measures that could
lead to the dismantlement of the North's nuclear program. In addition, Japan needs to intensify its
stance of pursuing dialogue and exerting pressure in resolving the abduction
issue. There is no reason whatsoever for
Japan to ease pressure on the North."
"No Compromise Until Complete Dismantlement Of Nuclear
Conservative Sankei urged (2/29): "The second round of Beijing talks
failed to make any substantial progress in resolving the North Korean nuclear
standoff. Japan's refusal to comply with
the North's request for economic assistance is a wise decision. We regrettably
view the North's negotiation tactics at the latest talks as extremely
fraudulent. Given the strong likelihood
that the North will repeat such diplomatic maneuvers at future six-way talks,
the US and Japan should continue to insist that North Korea dismantle its
nuclear programs, including its suspected HEU program, in a complete,
verifiable and irreversible manner. The GOJ should not give any economic
assistance to the North until a settlement of the nuclear and abduction issues
"Hopeful Of Nuclear Breakthrough At Future Talks"
Liberal Asahi opined (2/29): "At last week's Beijing talks, the US
and Japan could not close the gap with the DPRK over the North's nuclear
development program. However, the
exchange of proposals between North Korean negotiators and the US could bring
progress to the nuclear issue at future talks.
At a sideline bilateral with the US, the North Koreans reportedly
proposed an in-depth discussion on terms that could lead to the North's
suspension of its nuclear program. Secretary of State Powell described
Pyongyang's proposal as forward-looking....
However, Japan needs to analyze the North's true intentions and
negotiation tactics in a cool headed manner."
SOUTH KOREA: “Kerry’s
Emergence As U.S. Democratic Presidential Nominee And The North Korean Nuclear
Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized
(3/5): “The fact that most of the U.S.
Democrats have chosen Sen. John Kerry as the presidential candidate that can
‘defeat President Bush’ shows that the evaluation of the Bush Administration’s
unilateral and military-oriented foreign policy will be the key issue in the
upcoming presidential election. Although
the key is the justice of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the current Iraqi
situation, which shows signs of a civil war, the North Korean nuclear issue is
expected to be a strong variable.
However, the emergence of Mr. Kerry, who advocates direct talks with
North Korea, as opposed to the Six-Party Framework favored by President Bush,
should not serve as an excuse for Pyongyang to delay the Six-Party Talks. Pyongyang should assume a more serious
attitude toward the Talks. No matter who
will win the upcoming election, it is very important for Pyongyang to resolve
its nuclear issue before he takes office.
Because, given that the 1994 Geneva Accord between the North and the
Clinton Administration was nullified by the next U.S. administration, for
Pyongyang to resolve its nuclear issue with the current Republican regime will
leave no seeds for future trouble.”
“Pyongyang Should Have No Illusions About U.S. Democratic
Presidential Candidate Kerry”
Conservative Segye Ilbo observed (3/5): “We cannot help but worry about the views in
some quarters of the international community that North Korea was lackadaisical
in the recent Six-Party Talks because it was busy calculating the gains and
losses of Mr. Kerry’s emergence as the U.S. Democratic presidential
candidate. If these views are true,
Pyongyang must be overlooking the reality of the U.S. international politics
that there can be no great changes in U.S. foreign policy, even if the rise of
the Democratic government brings a few changes to U.S. North Korea
policy.... In particular, Pyongyang must
note that, despite certain differences between Mr. Kerry and President Bush
over the North Korean nuclear issue, Mr. Kerry also favors a solution so that
Pyongyang will dismantle all its nuclear programs, not just freeze them. We sincerely hope that Pyongyang will not
make the mistake of delaying the Six-Party Talks while weighing possible
changes in the U.S. political situation.”
“Six-Party Talks And The Libya Model”
Moon Chung-in remarked in moderate Hankook Ilbo (3/3): “It seems fair to say that the dramatic
resolution of the Libyan WMD problem was made possible by more than nine months
of persistent, behind-the-scenes negotiations between Libya and Britain on
behalf of the U.S. In addition, it paid
off to use Seif al-Islam, Libyan leader Qadhafi’s U.K.-educated son and
purported successor, as a major negotiating channel.... After all, the Libya model shows that the
Six-Party Talks alone will not be sufficient to reach a breakthrough in
resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, and that Washington should engage in
unofficial bilateral talks--whatever form they may take--with Pyongyang. If it is impossible for Washington to do so
due to the upcoming presidential election in November, the ROK should play the
role of mediator similar to Britain’s role.
Furthermore, the U.S. should establish a channel for direct talks with
the North Korean leadership by appointing a policy coordinator or special envoy
on the North Korean nuclear issue. This
kind of covert, behind-the-scenes bilateral contact between the two countries
will certainly serve as a catalyst for the success of the Six-Party Talks.”
“Dispelling U.S. Distrust of North Korea is the Key to Resolving
the North Korean Nuclear Crisis”
Baik Hak-soon wrote in pro-government Seoul Shinmun
(3/2): “We cannot help but feel some
regret about the just-ended Six-Party Talks because we believe that, if
Washington had demonstrated more flexibility toward the North Korean nuclear
issue, a breakthrough could have been achieved on key issues, moving closer
toward resolving the issue.... The U.S.
might have maintained its position of not allowing Pyongyang any nuclear
programs--even if they are for peaceful purposes--due to its deep distrust of
the North. However, if the U.S. had
allowed the North to keep its nuclear capability to produce energy and accepted
the North’s proposal for a freeze of its nuclear program as a first step toward
complete dismantlement, a breakthrough would have been made during the
talks. As for Pyongyang, securing energy
supplies is indispensable to improving its tattered economy.... Furthermore, aren’t all of the participants
in the Six-Party Talks engaging in nuclear development for peaceful purposes,
and doesn’t the basic spirit of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty allow
member countries to have nuclear programs for peaceful uses?”
“North Korea Must Dispel Doubts Over ‘Peaceful Nuclear
Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (3/1): “One prominent point of disagreement that
surfaced during the Six-Party Talks was North Korea’s call to exclude its
peaceful nuclear activity from the activities to be frozen and the U.S.’
suspicions over the North Korean demand.
What is at issue now is whether what Pyongyang calls ‘a peaceful nuclear
activity’ will be accepted as genuinely peaceful, especially considering its
past history of calling the 5-megawatt reactor at Yongbyeon ‘a peaceful
activity’ while using it for weapons purposes.
If Pyongyang really wants to see a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, it
must guarantee transparency in this regard, which would clearly put its [nuclear]
past to rest.”
“Working-Level Talks Should Not Be Reduced To Vehicle For Playing
Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo declared (3/1): “The most significant achievements of the
just-concluded Six-Party Talks were the declaration of denuclearization and an
agreement among the six participants to establish a working-level group and to
reconvene sometime before June....
However, despite these achievements, it is regrettable that the talks
failed to make any concrete and substantial progress on solving the nuclear
issue. In particular, the fact that the
participants failed to solve their differences of opinion over the existence of
a highly enriched uranium (HEU) program, the specific programs to be dismantled
and the respective measures to be taken at every stage heralds a difficult and
bumpy road for future talks. Although
both Pyongyang and Washington cannot help but be wary of making any moves
before the U.S. presidential election in November, for the North’s nuclear
program to remain as a dark shadow on the future of the Korean people is highly
undesirable for the stability of Northeast Asia. Pyongyang must note that, even if the U.S. Democratic
Party took power in the upcoming election, the North could not survive as long
as it has nuclear programs, and that the sooner it gives up its nuclear
programs, the better chance it will have of having its regime and its
“It Is Not Time To Be Content With ‘Half-baked Success’ In
Resolving North Korea’s Nuclear Issue”
Independent Dong-a Ilbo held (3/1): “The Six-Party Talks ended up being a
‘half-baked success’ because North Korea and the U.S. failed to narrow their
differences of opinion over major contentious issues, except the conventional
frame of negotiations.... In addition,
should Pyongyang continue to deny its HEU program, which provided the source of
the second nuclear crisis, future negotiations would inevitably run into
difficulties. Considering the history of
North Korea’s nuclear development, Pyongyang’s argument that it cannot abandon
its ‘peaceful nuclear activities’ cannot be easily justified.... North Korea should first prove that its
nuclear development is intended for peaceful purposes by allowing a rigorous
verification by the international community of its nuclear activities. Even though the ROKG has made considerable
efforts to make this round of talks a success, including producing the
three-step solution, it is not time to be content with such a ‘half-baked
success'.... The ROKG must come forward
to establish closer cooperative ties with the participating countries in the
Six-Party Talks, including the U.S., Japan, and China.”
“Six-Party Talks Make Some Progress But This Is Insufficient”
Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun maintained
(3/1): “It is disappointing that the
Six-Party Talks, held after six months of hard, behind-the-scene negotiations
among the concerned parties, failed to reach an agreement on contentious
issues, such as the definition and scope of the dismantlement of North Korea’s
nuclear programs, and left it up to a working-level group to discuss the
issues...because the differences of opinion between the U.S. and North Korea
were too wide for the ROK and China to mediate.... We wonder how working-level talks, attended
by deputy representatives, could produce a breakthrough in resolving the
sensitive issues on which the chief representatives failed to narrow their
“Even Though Six-Party Talks Managed To Keep Dialogue Momentum”
Conservative Segye Ilbo editorialized (3/1): “Should Washington and Pyongyang continue to
refuse to budge an inch, with the former calling for a 'complete dismantlement
of all the latter’s nuclear programs’ and the latter insisting on ‘simultaneous
actions,’ keeping the momentum of the dialogue would inevitably lose its
significance. In this regard, the
upcoming working-level talks should not fail to make progress in discussing
such issues as the existence of a HEU program in North Korea, the scope and
duration of the dismantlement of the North’s nuclear programs and the provision
of security assurances and compensation to the North within a multilateral
“Patience Required For Six-Party Talks”
Pro-government Seoul Shinmun said (3/1): “It is fortunate that these Six-Party Talks
agreed to form a working-level group aimed at making arrangements for future
talks within the first half of this year.
Since it is impossible to expect a great breakthrough overnight, it is
greatly important to continue with the talks.... Washington and Pyongyang are to blame for the
lack of progress in these talks because they both refused to make concessions
to the other. However, in our view,
greater responsibility lies in Pyongyang because the North provided the primary
cause of the current nuclear crisis and it stands to reason that Pyongyang
should renounce its nuclear programs before demanding corresponding
CANADA: "North Korea
Has The U.S. In A Jam"
Marcus Gee commented in the leading Globe and Mail
(2/27): "Even before six-nation
talks on North Korea's weapons program began in Beijing this week, the North
Korean regime was naming its price. The U.S. must send more food aid to North Korea. It
must resume its shipments of heavy oil. It must finish building the light-water
nuclear reactors that were promised to the regime in an earlier
energy-for-disarmament deal. It must establish diplomatic relations with North
Korea. It must agree in writing never to attack the North. Then, and only then,
would North Korea dismantle its weapons program. Amazingly, the Bush
administration was considering this outrageous ransom note. After swearing it
would never surrender to nuclear blackmail, Washington hinted that North Korea
would be offered both security guarantees and economic aid if it agreed to
dismantle all of its nuclear program....
Why? Because Washington really is over a barrel.... Yes, the plutonium produced for Mr. Hecker
might be fake, and the whole nuclear-weapons effort an elaborate bluff. Then,
again, it might not.... Washington's
predicament shows how important it is to act early and decisively against rogue
regimes that are trying to get WMD. In
the runup to last year's war in Iraq, Washington's critics said it should not
act until it had definite proof that Saddam Hussein actually possessed WMD and
was planning to use them. The failure to find any WMD in Iraq after the war has
only strengthened their belief in proof first, action later. The problem is
that once a regime like Iraq's or North Korea's actually has a bomb, it's too
late. Making them get rid of it is much harder and more dangerous. That is the
lesson of the jam jar. The real risk is not that the international community
will overestimate the WMD danger from a rogue nation and act too soon; the risk
is that it will underestimate the danger and act too late. So far, we have been
lucky.... Rogue regimes and their
nuclear ambitions are the biggest security threat of our time. The recent news
from Pakistan, whose scientists sold nuclear know-how around the world for
profit, shows that such regimes often share these murderous technologies. Cruel
to their own citizens, menacing to their neighbours, they cannot be allowed to
possess the hardware of mass murder."