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Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

March 5, 2004

March 5, 2004





**  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 Good"


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 image."


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 spiral."


"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."




UAE:  "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.”




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 Program"


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 is achieved."       


"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 Problem”


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 Activities’”


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 For Time”


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 prosperity guaranteed.”


“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 differences.”


“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 framework.”


“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 compensation.”




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."



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