September 21, 2005
SIX-PARTY TALKS: 'THE AGREEMENT THAT WASN'T'
** Media initially upbeat over "breakthrough" pact, skeptical about unpredictable Pyongyang.
** A "paper" accord, writ loosely, in compromise with the "not particularly reliable" N. Koreans.
** Challenges: DPRK credibility, light water reactor, IAEA inspections, and NPT compliance.
** The Beijing declaration led writers to praise China's "effective and influential" mediation.
'It's too early to call it quits' for peninsula and regional peace-- "We've been here before" cautioned an Australian writer. Russia's reformist Vremya Novostey emphasized the Beijing agreement may only be an "illusion" because "unpredictable Pyongyang may scrap any accord." Even as S. Korean outlets labeled the pact a "forward-looking milestone" that "opens the way for peace," they asserted that it is now time to "put the agreement reached into practice." Similarly, Hong Kong's independent South China Morning Post stated, "the pressure is now on North Korea for action where until now there has only been words." German writers hailed the "breakthrough," but one analyst queried, "Is North Korea's word worth anything?"
The necessary 'concessions of Kim Jong Il' and Washington-- Numerous writers addressed the "paper agreement with Kim," averring that as a result--"on paper"--Washington and Pyongyang "are a step closer to settling their conflict." S. Korea's left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun judged that the U.S. and N. Korea "found points of compromise" because there was a "sense of crisis" if no deal could be reached. A Taiwanese analyst opined that "The U.S., after acting very tough for a few years, has made even more concessions when it comes to its policy with North Korea." Japanese papers on Sept 20 welcomed the joint statement as the "starting point" of a "long tough" road ahead of prospects for "normalization."
The 'devil in the details' leaves hurdles and 'stumbling blocks'-- North Korea should "immediately" return to the NPT, declared a South Korea outlet. Belgium's independent Der Standaard emphasized the deal's shortcomings in that "no date has been set for IAEA inspectors' visits or N. Korea’s return to the NPT." France's right-of-center Le Figaro added the "declaration leaves for later the settlement about light-water nuclear commercial plants (LWR), which North Korea is asking for." Indeed, within 24 hours Pyongyang did a 'u-turn' by launching an agreement-threatening gambit by insisting the U.S. provide a LWR before it meets its pact obligations. A German editorialist cautioned the "talks about details will show whether the vague wording of the agreement offers more than a return to the status quo ante."
Beijing doing justice to 'role of regional, major power'-- Observers praised the agreement as a "success for China," declaring that "more than any other country" it made the agreement possible. Pro-PRC outlets lauded the "wisdom and patience of the host country" while Israel's independent Jerusalem Post stated, "Much of the credit for the North Korean deal must go to China." Taiwan's pro-unification United Daily News asserted, "The success of the Six-Party Talks shows that Beijing’s strength in negotiations and the political and economic power it possesses are getting bigger and bigger."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR: Rupert D. Vaughan
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 69 reports from 23 countries over September 20 - 21, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Iran And North Korea Test The West's Will"
An editorial in the conservative Daily Telegraph (9/20): "Success, albeit tenuous, in Beijing will encourage those who favour further discussions with Iran, rather than referral to the Security Council. Yet talks with the European Union troika of Britain, France and Germany and seven resolutions by the IAEA have not altered Teheran's determination to acquire at least a nuclear weapons capability, if not the hardware itself. To shirk UN referral this week will further dent the agency's authority and embolden would-be proliferators. The abortive NPT review conference and the General Assembly's failure to reach agreement on proliferation before the UN's 60th anniversary, have seriously undermined the status of the 1968 treaty. North Korea and Iran are an acid test of international will to reverse that trend."
FRANCE: "The Agreement That Wasn’t"
Therese Delpeche of CERI (European Center for International Research) commented in left-of-center Liberation (9/21): “An American expert on Monday, carried away by his enthusiasm cried ‘victory in the Korean Peninsula....’ Twenty-four hours later the ‘victory’ had turned into a quarrel… Was the American negotiator too quick when he accepted the vague wording of the first point in the agreement, accepting to leave for later the details of the light water nuclear plant? It is legitimate to ask this because Washington was quick to retort that what this meant was: after the dismantling of the North-Korean nuclear sites. Whereas Pyongyang clearly said that Washington should not even dream of it unless it first delivered the plant. This is what happens when one is too eager to reach an agreement with a partner known for its turn-arounds.... After two years of negotiations the skies cleared as if by magic and a Chinese diplomatic breakthrough was announced. But China’s primary objective is not to settle the North Korean issue, but to prolong the discussions and avoid a major crisis with the U.S and/or Japan.... In short, negotiations will continue but it is too early to cry victory.”
"North Korea Gives Up Its Nuclear Arsenal"
Jean-Jacques Mevel commented in right-of-center Le Figaro (9/20): “The North Korean commitment which Beijing was able to extract from Pyongyang is the first tangible sign of success after two years of on and off negotiations.... On paper, Washington and Pyongyang are a step closer to settling their conflict.... But it is only a promise. The Beijing declaration sets no deadline, gives no detail and no means of verification. President Bush, who cautiously saluted the agreement, insists on the need to be able to ensure that Pyongyang respects its commitment.... But the declaration leaves for later the settlement about light water nuclear commercial plants, which North Korea is asking for.... Down the road, the most difficult phase will be the verification stage. Success depends on trust and sincerity from both sides, two things which have been missing until now. Just as they were missing from Iraq and the U.S. before their lack led to war.”
GERMANY: "No Breakthrough"
Peter Sturm argued in an editorial in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (9/20): "What, at first inspection, looks like a miracle is in reality an equation with many unknown factors.... If we presume that North Korea subjects to the control regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the nuclear weapons should be destroyed under international supervision. But at this opportunity, the international community could be faced with the first surprise. Was the entire nuclear question in the end only an--almost ingenious--bluff of the North Korean regime? And what about Kim Jong-il's reaction to international control? Experience from the past, about which the IAEA does not want to make a big thing, urge us to be very careful. Pyongyang knows how to create difficulties for IAEA inspectors. There is another aspect of the agreement that speaks against a 'breakthrough.' The agreement is to be implemented according to the 'tit-for-tat' principle. But who 'may' do the first step? Even if the United States had the strength to call upon Pyongyang to make the first step, South Korea would not have this strength. Seoul is really afraid of a collapse of the North, and security considerations are in this respect of lesser significance. North Korea can still--even though with restrictions--determine the course of events. And these restrictions are the only--true--progress."
"North Korea's Promise"
Henrik Bork had this to say in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (9/20): "Is North Korea's word worth anything? Only if the answer is 'yes,' will there be a breakthrough in the nuclear conflict...but if the answer is 'no,' not too much will have changed with this piece of paper. In the past, North Korea frequently said that in principle, it would be willing to give up its nuclear program if all it demands were met.... North Korea has been trying to get as much as it can for giving up its nuclear ambitions. But a further improvement of the current offer...seems to be unlikely right now. If Pyongyang had not given in a bit and signed a generally formulated paper, it would have probably lost control over the entire process.... The current paper has postponed a debate over so many important questions that it would allow both the United States and also North Korea to wringle out of its commitments. There will be reason to cheer only as soon as both sides begin the 'step by-step' implementation of their promises. But the devil is in the details. Who, for instance decides which North Korean disarmament steps are sufficient to justify shipments of oil and energy?… Both sides will continue to have to show enormous flexibility to prevent a failure of the diplomatic solution.... The uneasy feeling remains that North Korea can continue to build the bomb until both sides agree on a concrete timetable for all promised steps. Pyongyang's credibility continues to remain the real core problem of this nuclear conflict."
Harald Maass had this to say in an editorial in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (9/20): "After two years of talks…there is reason for hope…. [Despite all difficulties] this agreement from Beijing is a breakthrough.... The price, which the United States and the other participating nations will pay, is comparably small. Washington said it does not harbor any aggressive plans toward Pyongyang and does not deploy nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula and Seoul will supply more energy to the North. Whether the agreement will become reality is something the negotiations will show. The future direction has now been set. Washington is silently following the EU policy and also the policy of the majority North Korea's Asian neighboring nations, which are working on North Korea's integration into the world community."
"A Real Breakthrough"
Clemens Wergin penned the following editorial in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (9/20): "The future path has been set to a course of détente, even though several details like the construction of a lightwater reactor remain vague. We owe North Korea's softening of its tone primarily to the United States, which, after President Bush's re-election and John Bolton replacement as chief envoy, has demonstrated greater flexibility…. The agreement is also a success for China. Beijing was criticized for a long time of not exerting greater pressure on North Korea. Now Beijing has done justice to the role of regional, major power, which it likes to reclaim…. But this agreement will also impress Iran, which is now even more isolated. But the solution that has now been found could also work for Tehran. The United States would be willing to normalize relations and possibly offer security guarantees. And the success in Asia would also justify for the United States to directly take part in European talks with Iran instead of leaving the matter to the Europeans alone. But it is likely that the mullahs will not move without sanctions. This is another lesson from North Korea."
"Pyongyang Gives In"
Jacques Schuster observed in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (9/20): "For the first time in years, there has been a success in re-enforcing the ailing principle of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.... If North Korea sticks to its promises--skepticism is appropriate--Iran remains on the list of relevant threats. But the six-party talks could be an example of resolving this problem, too. In the talks with North Korea, the five powers learned to bundle their different interests and to lure Pyongyang with promises or to intimidate it with threats. The United States in particular overcame its aversion towards the unsavory regime.... In the case of Iran, the approach could be similar. Together with the Europeans, the Americas could open talks with Tehran. Both Europeans and Americans could agree on a carrot-and-stick strategy, ranging from a guarantee for economic support to the announcement to take military steps, including a considerable weakening of the country's infrastructure. But this requires a European-American rapprochement of views. Maybe the success with North Korea offers the necessary incentive."
"Paper Agreement With Kim"
Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg judged (9/20): "North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-il can be highly satisfied with the final document of the six-party talks. He will receive a high price for giving up his nuclear plans: with a non-aggressive pact of the United States, prospects for economic assistance, and the promise to use nuclear energy for civil purposes. In view of the stalemate in the talks, it must be considered a success that North Korea committed itself to accepting a compromise after three years of talks. Kim Jong-il chose the most favorable moment, for the conflict with Iran, which is much more important as far as geo-strategy is concerned, the problems in Iraq, and the consequences of Hurrican Katrina are binding forces of its main opponent, the United States…. But the talks about details will show whether the vague wording of the agreement offers more than a return to the status quo ante. Skepticism is advisable. In 1994, North Korea was rewarded for its move to give up its nuclear program, but this did not prevent the regime from undermining the agreement with a secret enrichment of uranium. As long as international inspectors are not in North Korea and have the chance for unimpeded controls, the agreement is not worth more than the paper on which it was written."
ITALY: "Halt To Nuclear Weapons? North Korea Has Second Thoughts"
Stefano Trincia wrote from New York in Rome center-left daily Il Messaggero (9/21): "The historic agreement in Beijing on North Korea’s nuclear program…lasted only 24 hours. With an unexpected, but not unforeseeable, about-face, the Kim Yong Il regime, that only the day before had accepted to renounce its nuclear ambitions in exchange for economic aid and diplomatic recognition, has abruptly slowed down. With a communiqué by the Foreign Ministry, Pyongyang clarified that the country ‘will not renounce its nuclear deterrent’ if the United States will not supply North Korea with a water nuclear reactor which is indispensable to satisfy the nation’s energy requirements…. Even the most skeptical observers were surprised by the speed with which the North Korean regime changed the cards on the table, confirming - in the opinion of Washington and Tokyo - the unreliability it [North Korea] had previously demonstrated."
"The Nuclear Bluff Of The Red Monarchy, Pyongyang Decides To Backtrack"
An editorial comment in elite, center-left daily Il Riformista (9/21): "The quick reversal of the North Korean regime which, only a few hours after the Beijing accords, has dampened the enthusiastic feelings about the end of the Asian nuclear crisis was, in many regards, unexpected.... But in reality, the next appointment in Beijing will be the key to understanding whether the crisis has, indeed, been set back on the tracks of constructive dialogue…or whether it will continue to be stalled by a bluff. The fact the situation had been improving was evident at the last session of negotiations, when particularly the Americans (who had replaced a previous negotiator with a softer one) made a significant step forward by agreeing to bilateral talks with the North Koreans. Pyongyang appreciated the gesture. All we have to do now is wait for the last move, without forgetting that the next meeting will be held in China while another delicate appointment is on the agenda: President Bush’s visit to the Celestial Empire. Where the U.S. President would like to arrive without having to worry about, among other things, the heavy North Korean burden."
"The Bold Move Of The Usual Bush"
An editorial comment in pro-government, elite Il Foglio (9/20): “When dealing with a brutal dictator like North Korean Communist Kim Jong II, it is always better to be skeptical and cautious, and not to lower the guard. But even if taken with all precautions, the news from Beijing…is not bad at all: North Korea signed a pact by which it renounces to its military nuclear programs and allows Western inspectors to enter its territory. Which means that George W. Bush, i.e., the American President whom everybody continues to underestimate, has obtained what his enemies did not believe he would, i.e., the surrender of Kim the Communist. Of course this is still a preliminary agreement, details need to be discussed, and North Koreans are not particularly reliable, given the fact that in the Clinton years they signed a non-proliferation treaty and then they proliferated considerably, taking advantage of a White House distracted by Monica Lewinsky. Aside from details, however, there is a substantial difference this time and it can be found in the very heart of the Bush doctrine: North Koreans have committed themselves not only with Washington…but also, and most of all, with China, Russia, Japan and South Korea, exactly because Bush has always refused to reach a deal with a member of the Axis of Evil.... In the end, in sum, it seems that Bush was right and, with him, the man to whom he assigned the task of carrying out his politics, i.e., John Bolton.”
"Korea Is No Longer An Outlaw State"
Siegmund Ginzberg commented in pro-Democratic Left party (DS) L’Unita’ (9/20): “Nobody can be certain that it will work yet. The unanimous opinion is that this is only a beginning, an initial step. The only clear thing is that the compromise achieved in Beijing regarding North Korea’s nuclear program is a step that goes in the opposite direction with respect to ‘preventive war.’ Of the three regimes that George W. Bush associated in the ‘Evil Axis’ in 2002, Kim Jong II’s North Korea is certainly the most brutal, perhaps the most ‘dangerous.’ But then why did Washington take the opposite road with Pyongyang than it did with Baghdad? Opposite also to the one that it seems determines to follow in order to halt Iran’s nuclear programs? A first possible answer is that, keeping in mind what happened in Iraq…the U.S. has full interest in trying to achieve different solutions, as an alternative to the one that has shown to be disastrous. A second possibility, much more distressing, is that ‘preventive wars’ can be waged against those who do not have the nuclear weapon (the case of Saddam Hussein), and not against those who boast about possessing it (in a convincing manner, so as to discourage people from trying to discover the bluff).”
RUSSIA: "An Illusion Of Accord"
Aleksandr Samokhotkin and Aleksandr Timofeyev said on the front page of reformist Vremya Novostey (9/20): "Two years of negotiations on a nuclear crisis in the Korean peninsula ended yesterday with an important joint statement. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il made a long-awaited promise to give up nuclear weapons and shut down all nuclear programs.... The United States and allies are concerned that unpredictable Pyongyang may scrap any accord. Washington has assured Pyongyang in writing that it has no nuclear weapons in the Korean peninsula.... But then, Kim Jong Il has to take it on faith: he will never be allowed to inspect U.S. military bases in South Korea."
"Washington, Pyongyang Reach Accord"
Oleg Kiryanov filed from Seoul for official government-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta (9/20): "In the final analysis, Pyongyang virtually won the war of nerves upholding its right to carry out a peaceful nuclear program. The outcome of the talks is positive, if only because they have not made things worse. This is good for the country that organized the Six-Party talks. China has had its international authority greatly enhanced as an effective and influential mediator."
Vladimir Sviridov contended in centrist army-run Krasnaya Zvezda (9/20): "With the burning issue of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, there can be no winners or losers because everybody benefits from solving it. Even so, the whole thing looks like a success for the DPRK. It is commonly known that the crisis over the Pyongyang nuclear program was provoked by the United States being overly tough. The Americans threatened intervention unless North Korea did as told. Pyongyang's response was a forced reaction to Washington's threats. While their actions were not quite justified, the North Koreans made it clear that talking to them from the position of strength was counterproductive."
"Russia Used As Counterweight"
Andrey Ivanov commented in business-oriented Kommersant (9/20): "Once Russia cut aid to the DPRK in the late 1980s, it became an enemy. It soon realized that its services were no longer needed, least of all in Seoul. Seeing that, the Kremlin decided to restore relations with the DPRK. It was some time before Moscow was admitted to the Korea peninsula talks. North Korea, aware of Russia's diminished foreign policy influence, thought it could use it, along with China and South Korea, as a counterweight to the United States and Japan. The arduous talks have won Pyongyang security guarantees, diplomatic recognition from the United States, and a right to a peaceful nuclear program. Not bad for the DPRK. As to Russia's contribution, we'll know what Pyongyang thinks of it when participants in the Six-Party talks get down to dividing contracts to restore the DPRK's economy."
BELGIUM: "A Positive Development"
Diplomatic correspondent Mia Doornaert commented in independent Christian-Democrat Der Standaard (9/20): “Naturally, China’s warning had the heaviest impact. China is the last partner of the Stalinist regime in Pyongyang that has reduced the once prosperous country to beggary and condemned the people to starvation. The Chinese leaders have supported the North Korean regime for a surprisingly long time, but its patience apparently is being depleted. One reason for that was undoubtedly the American threat to take the nuclear weapons that North Korea claims to possess to the UNSC. That initiative would definitely receive support because North Korea has only few friends in the rest of the world…. Kim Jong-il sticks to his position that he will cancel his nuclear weapons program only if he receives the security guarantees and energy supplies that he is claiming. The United States, however, wants the reverse order. After ten years of negotiations-- which always clashed with Kim’s unpredictability--the United States wants clear signals that North Korea will respect the agreements. Another shortcoming is that no date has been set for the IAEA inspectors' visits and North Korea’s return to the NPT.... It is possible that nobody, except for a handful of people around Kim, knows the size and sites of the regime’s uranium program. That means that, even if the IAEA inspectors are allowed to return, they will not have any certainty that everything is shown. The IAEA has not forgotten that Iran kept its uranium enrichment program secret for eighteen years while it was an NPT member and admitted IAEA inspectorrs.... The Beijing agreement is certainly a positive development, but the unpredictability of Kim’s regime and his indifference to the fate of his people who need foreign help more than ever raises many question about its implementation.”
CZECH REPUBLIC: "One Step Forward, One Step Back"
Milan Slezak commented in the business Hospodarske noviny (9/21): “It looks like a scene from an absurd drama. On Monday, the DPRK has obliged itself in writing to give up its nuclear weapons and has obtained hope (but nothing more) that it will receive a light water reactor in return. And right the next day, the North Korean glutton says that it wants the light water reactor first and only then it will abandon its nuclear arsenal.... There are two basic imaginable scenarios. The first one can be marked as a black one. The DPRK will carry its blackmailing tactic too far and the Monday agreement will be nullified.... The second scenario is more optimistic. The DPRK will try to get maximum concessions, but once it starts sensing that this effort could sabotage the recent agreement, it will backpedal and its further demands will be strictly realistic. The reward the DPRK would get for such a forthcoming attitude would not be small.... Also North Korea's neighbors would breathe more easily in such a case, as well as the U.S. which has enough problems with Iraq and with the more and more defiant Iran now. For North Koreans this would mean that the fall of the most despicable dictatorship in the world is being further postponed. But they were not the subject of the talks in Beijing.”
DENMARK: "U.S. Diplomatic Compromises Bear Fruit In North Korea"
Center-right Politiken stated (9/20): "While North Korea has indicated a willingness to cooperate with the international community, the U.S. has also been ready to compromise. America has recognized North Korea's legitimacy and even promised not to invade the country. This represents something of a u-turn in relation to the Bush Administration's normal jingoistic style. If this balancing act proves to be successful with North Korea, the same thing ought to be attempted with the third country in the so-called, axis of evil, Iran."
IRELAND: "Diplomacy Wins In Nuclear Deal"
The center-left Irish Times editorialized (9/20): "The agreement among six negotiating powers to denuclearize the Korean peninsula announced yesterday in Beijing is good news for East Asia and for worldwide efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons…..North Korea has agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons program, rejoin the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and accept IAEA investigation teams. It has been prompted to do so by a statement from the United States that it does not have nuclear weapons in South Korea and does not intend to attack North Korea. Japan has made a similar statement. These, along with China and Russia, undertake to provide the secretive Stalinist state with a civilian light-water reactor at an appropriate time. They have also committed themselves to give oil and energy aid as well as security guarantees. Details are to be worked out at future meetings and will be difficult to agree and implement because of the lack of trust involved. But yesterday's breakthrough sets up a platform on which it can develop. The agreement is a real achievement for China and South Korea, which have put most emphasis on a multinational approach, rather than the more hardline reliance on military pressure supported by the United States and Japan over the last three years since the crisis first erupted….This agreement could set a precedent for a more constructive approach to the Taiwan issue between China and the United States as well as, more obviously, for Iran's nuclear confrontation with the IAEA. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's defiant speech to the United Nations on Saturday, warning against the imposition of an ‘apartheid regime’ against his country on nuclear energy and resources, contained an implicit threat to retaliate as North Korea did by withdrawing from talks and leaving the non-proliferation treaty. As yet there is no firm evidence that Iran is in breach of the treaty and several indications it wants to avoid UN sanctions. The North Korean deal should encourage them to do so."
"North Korea Agrees To Basis For Dropping Its Nuclear Plan"
Clifford Coonan in Beijing commented in the center-left Irish Times (9/20): "Nuclear tensions in east Asia eased yesterday after North Korea promised to drop its atomic weapons plan in exchange for guarantees the U.S. would not invade the communist country, the first major breakthrough in two years of talks... The accord comes soon after North Korea asked foreign non-governmental organizations…to leave by the end of the year. Negotiators agreed to hold more talks in November, when they would try to implement in a more concrete way the terms of the agreement. While the deal has boosted hopes for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula, the main U.S. envoy, assistant secretary of state Christopher Hill, warned there was still a way to go before the agreement turns into something concrete. Analysts shared Mr. Hill's caution, saying the talks were basically agreements in principle, containing little in the way of real progress. The real challenge would come when deciding who would verify that disarmament was actually taking place.... A crucial part of the settlement is an agreement by Seoul to deliver two million kilowatts of electricity across the heavily armed DMZ (de-militarised zone) dividing the peninsula, one of the last relics of the Cold War. Pyongyang has always insisted it needs nuclear weapons to face down the growing threat of invasion from the U.S. Pyongyang and Washington pledged to respect each other's sovereignty and right to peaceful coexistence. 'The United States affirmed that it has no nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula and has no intention to attack or invade [North Korea] with nuclear or conventional weapons,’ the statement said."
NORWAY: "Nuclear No"
The newspaper of record Aftenposten commented 9/20): “Cautious optimism. These two words describe the reaction after North Korea has allegedly given up its plans to make nuclear weapons in exchange for a U.S. guarantee to not attack the country and for aid from neighbors of the desperately poor communist country in the form of electricity and further economic assistance. We can never be completely sure when dealing with a regime that is extremely closed and has repeatedly broken international agreements.... But it would be significant if these difficult negotiations, which five countries in addition to North Korea have been carrying out over the past five years, should yield results.... Still there are many unanswered questions. One of them is how an agreement can be enforced, especially considering that the North Koreans ran their nuclear program secretly for many years, despite proclaiming the opposite. This has led to a lack of confidence that will be hard to overcome. Still, we have now moved one step further.”
SPAIN: "Pyongyang Gives Up"
Left-of-center wrote El País (9/20): "More than any other country, China has made the agreement possible. From the beginning Beijing looked for a path more open to dialogue, in contrast to Washington's position of firmness and threats. But it is evident that economic poverty and the hunger crisis that looms over North Korea yet again has have strongly influenced the concessions of Kim Jong Il. Time will say if this commitment finally ends in empty words or if it is the start of the denuclearization and peace in the Korean peninsula."
SWEDEN: "DPRK Re-enters NPT"
Foreign editor Per Ahlin wrote in the Stockholm independent, liberal Dagens Nyheter (9/20): "North Korea reportedly has agreed to scrap its nuclear weapons program and re-enter the NPT. This will pave the way for international inspections, and if so, it will be a success for China, which has been a driving force in the negotiations. But there are several stumbling blocks. The North Korean regime has given promises before and there are unsolved issues at the horizon.... But the message from North Korea is a glimpse of light in the total disarmament darkness. But the one whose eye falls on Iran immediately will return into pessimism.... “Today’s gleam of hope--the North Korean nuclear breakthrough--may be only a short-lived success. And this is discouraging to all of us who do not want new emerging nuclear powers.
ISRAEL: "A Good Week For U.S. Diplomacy"
Washington correspondent Nathan Guttman wrote in conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (9/20): "Much of the credit for the North Korean deal must go to China, but the Bush administration can mark the end of a successful diplomatic week. Good news came from all over the globe.... It is not clear how many of the achievements can be credited to the 'Bush doctrine' in foreign policy, focusing on preemptive activity against states that support terrorism or develop weapons of mass destruction.... The only two arenas in which the Bush doctrine has been put to a test -- Iran and Iraq -- can not yet be declared successes for the U.S.... How will these diplomatic successes affect the U.S. involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?.... The level of American intervention in the conflict has never been affected by the North Korean nuclear program, the internal situation in Afghanistan, or even by Iran's nuclear ambitions. So the only conclusion for Israel is that nothing will change, except for maybe an upward swing in the administration's collective mood."
"Iran Won't Cave In"
Intelligence affairs correspondent Yossi Melman wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (9/20): "If North Korea keeps its commitments, as drafted in the declaration of intentions in the six-nation talks in Beijing, it will have achieved its goals.... The agreement is a great accomplishment, especially for China's diplomatic patience. But the agreement is also an achievement for the U.S., which conditioned all diplomatic recognition and economic aid on North Korea abandoning its nuclear program. Unlike North Korea, Iran wants nuclear capabilities in order to build military power and deterrence.... Iran is not North Korea and will not succumb to pressure. The international atmosphere could have an indirect effect on Israel's policy of strategic nuclear ambiguity. It weakens Israel's position vis-a-vis its own nuclear program, although there is no international pressure at present and none is seen on the horizon. Israel can therefore stick to its ambiguity policy as long as it has the support of the U.S. and the EU."
"What About North Korea's Missile Sales?"
Military correspondent Arieh O'Sullivan wrote on page one of Jerusalem Post (9/20): "The impact of North Korea's decision to give up its quest for nuclear weapons, while positive for world peace, would have been greater if it also included a vow to halt missile technology proliferation. Israel is not being threatened either directly or indirectly by North Korea's nuclear program. But it certainly is on the targeted end of its ambitious ballistic missile program that has provided Arab states and Iran with know-how that has allowed them to amass an arsenal of Scud and Shihab rockets capable of hitting Tel Aviv.... Without moves to halt this proliferation of missile technology, it is too early to tell if this agreement is profitable for Israel."
AUSTRALIA: "A Death Knell The Bush Doctrine"
An op-ed in the national conservative Australian from editor-at-large Paul Kelly noted (9/21): “The North Korean agreement offers new hope for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and for China-U.S. relations; and, above all, is an incentive for a more realistic Bush foreign policy. The agreement is fragile and may not hold. But after such protracted pessimism it is a ray of optimism in a gloomy global environment. And--if the deal does stick--the path will open towards a transformation on the Korean peninsula and in the strategic situation of Northeast Asia. The agreement suggests the U.S. has reached a tipping point. The ebullient Bush of his 2002 'axis of evil' fame would never have contemplated this retreat. The agreement violates pre-emption, unilateralism, regime change and military intervention, the ideas that once defined Bush's presidency. It confirms that Iraq is the exception, not the rule, for Bush's foreign policy.”
"Perhaps The Big Stick Is Only Way To End This"
Defense writer Geoffrey Barker observed in the business-oriented Australian Financial Review (9/21): “The odious Pyongyang regime has done it again. Within 24 hours of the six-party agreement to end the Korean peninsula nuclear crisis, North Korea has refused to meet its obligations until the United States gives it a light-water nuclear reactor. This threat to renege on the new agreement is standard operating procedure for the gangster regime with its established track record for international threats, aggression, kidnap, murder, weapons proliferation, drug-running and money laundering. It is also, sadly, rational behavior. For years the North Koreans have managed to keep their crippled and starving regime afloat by extracting food, financial and energy aid from neighboring countries in return for behaving less badly than their threats have implied they might otherwise behave. There seems little doubt Pyongyang will come under extreme pressure now from Beijing to abandon its latest bastardry. We might be about learn how much influence China really does have over North Korea. We might also get the measure of the limits of U.S. patience with North Korea. “
"Upping The Ante On N-weapons"
Robyn Lim, professor of international relations at Nanzan University in Nagoya, opined in the business-oriented Australian Financial Review (9/21): "The so-called breakthrough in relation to North Korea's nuclear ambitions does not signal the reinforcement of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty (NPT). Quite the contrary. North Korea does nothing but lie and cheat. Sure enough Pyongyang is already backing down from Monday's commitment. And the NPT is unraveling.”
"Korea's Uncertain Outbreak Of Hope"
Editorial in the liberal Sydney Morning Herald read (9/21): “It is too soon to celebrate, but Monday's six-nation statement of principles for resolving the protracted conflict over North Korea's nuclear gamesmanship represents a positive move towards defusing one of the world's most dangerous flashpoints. Despite North Korea backing away from part of the agreement yesterday, at the very least, it shows that patient diplomacy offers better prospects of progress than the stalemate resulting from the previous pattern of non-negotiable demands by the United States and brinkmanship and cheating by Pyongyang's erratic leader, Kim Jong-il. Hopefully, this lesson will be taken on board by hardliners in the Bush Administration and the new Iranian Government as they consider tactics in another deepening, similarly perilous nuclear stand-off. Flexibility can be a sign not of weakness, but of strength.... The Bush Administration seems to have moved from its earlier insistence that North Korea's nuclear programs must be fully verifiably dismantled before economic aid can flow, agreeing instead to co-ordinated steps--'commitment for commitment, action for action.' There is a long, tortuous way to go, but this sounds like the beginning of wisdom.”
"Nothing Is Ever As It Seems In North Korea"
The liberal Melbourne Age editorialized (9/21): “The positive diplomacy is welcome: there were always flaws in Mr. Bush's hardline approach. Meanwhile, Pyongyang receives desperately needed aid and a domestic propaganda bonus. But where North Korea is concerned, things are seldom as they seem. Yesterday its foreign ministry cast doubt over the deal by insisting that light-water reactors be delivered before any nuclear arms are surrendered. This development, which brought a rebuke from China, is a clear sign that the diplomacy is not yet ended. Sadly, the long march to peace and prosperity for oppressed and starved ordinary North Koreans is far from over. In the meantime, the international community faces the challenge of ensuring that Pyongyang embraces the bargain and abides by the agreement.”
"It's Too Early To Call It Quits"
Editorial in the business-oriented Australian Financial Review noted (9/20): “We've been here before. North Korea has played a pea and thimble game with its nuclear activities so many times in the past two years, it's hard not to be cynical about yesterday's developments. Just as talks are about to be abandoned, Pyongyang makes a big gesture and wins generous concessions that last until it starts the cycle again by going back to being belligerent. The time for celebration will be when inspectors have confirmed North Korea's nuclear weapons program has been scrapped. But given the dismal outlook for nonproliferation--it didn't even get mentioned at the United Nations summit and Iran is resuming uranium enrichment plans--the news has got to be better than nothing.... The quicker North Korea can be brought into the open the better. That means speedily getting inspectors into the country, supplying the electricity and other assistance it wants, and normalizing diplomatic relations. The only way to deal with a rogue state is to entice it back into the bigger community of nations. Once that is done, the separate issue of how to revive the nonproliferation treaty can be dealt with.”
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR): "The Art Of Compromise"
Frank Ching wrote in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (9/21): "The fragility of the situation was shown by the fact that North Korea issued a statement yesterday saying that it would not give up its nuclear weapons until Washington provided civilian atomic reactors. The North Korean announcement did not repudiate the joint statement issued in Beijing the previous day, but it suggests that a lot of hard work remains before the agreement in principle can be implemented. If the six parties had failed to agree to anything this time, it would have jeopardized the whole negotiating process. Fortunately, the U.S. and North Korea were sufficiently flexible to agree to mutually acceptable wording.... The next round of six-party talks is scheduled for November and it is likely that further rounds will be needed to reach detailed agreement on all issues. In that process, serious problems may still emerge. For one thing, the U.S. accuses North Korea of having a secret program of using highly enriched uranium to produce nuclear weapons, an accusation that Pyongyang rejects. It remains to be seen how this major difference will be overcome."
"Words That Must Be Followed By Action"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post said in an editorial (9/20): "North Korea's past agreements have been made bilaterally, but this time it has signed an accord with the nations most important to its future. China and Russia are its foremost trading partners while the U.S., Japan and South Korea are its key to ending isolation and embracing economic development. China, the U.S. and their partners must ensure that the deal comes to fruition as a lesson to Iran and other nations seemingly eager to follow North Korea's path. But the pressure is now on North Korea for action where until now there has only been words. It can start by shutting down its main nuclear facility at Yongbyon, rejoining the Non-Proliferation Treaty and allowing back International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors. Then it can start in earnest to resolve disagreements that have for too long been preventing peace from truly breaking out in Northeast Asia."
"Wisdom And Patience Of The Host Country"
The pro-PRC Chinese-language Hong Kong Commercial Daily editorialized (9/20): "China has made all its efforts in establishing a new security view which countries are mutually trusted, mutually beneficial and equal and cooperative. It suggested solving countries' security issues through international cooperation. It thought that cold-war mentality, unilateralism and resorting to forces are unworkable. The achievement obtained in the six-party talks is a good practice of solving disputes through diplomacy and dialogue. China has also set an example of upholding 'peace, development and cooperation' in its diplomacy. On the one side is Iraq with raging flames of war. On the other side is resolving the North Korean nuclear issue on the negotiation table. Which means is the best way to settle disputes peacefully? It has proved that China's suggestion is correct."
"Mediating North Korea's Nuclear Weapon Issues; Defusing China Threat Theory"
The independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Times commented in an editorial (9/20): "The six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear issue have finally had some results. North Korea promised to give up all of its nuclear weapons and existing nuclear plans. Beijing's mediation is obviously the catalyst for this success. Public opinion hopes that the U.S. should return the present over the Taiwan Straits issue. This hope may likely fall through. However, Beijing is not aiming for any return. It just hopes that its efforts in promoting global peace will weaken the China threat theory in the international community.... The U.S. leads the international public opinion. If Beijing wants to counteract the China threat theory, the road is long and difficult. It needs to make an effort step by step. Thus, mediating in the North Korean nuclear issue is just a beginning of such an effort."
"Preventing Nuclear Proliferation Relies On Strict Monitoring"
The mass-circulation Chinese-language Apple Daily News remarked in an editorial (9/20): "A breakthrough was made in this round of six-party talks. The talks made North Korea, an autocratic country that would rather keep the nuclear weapons than their pants, to promise to give up nuclear weapons. At least, the talks have made an important step in stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Apart from hoping that countries that participated in the six-party talks will push North Korea to carry out the agreement, we also hope that the international community including China, the U.S., Russia and the European Union will continue to cooperate in urging other countries such as Iran to give up their nuclear programs through diplomatic and economic pressure. Then, more regions will become nuclear free regions and the nuclear weapons will not proliferate to different corners of the world."
"Multilateral Cooperation Is Better Than Hegemony"
The independent Chinese-language Ming Pao Daily News had an editorial (9/20): "The fourth round of six-party talks held in Beijing concluded yesterday. The six parties finally made a significant breakthrough over the issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Participants issued a joint statement to set up a framework for resolving the whole nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula. They have laid down a foundation for eliminating the factor--North Korean nuclear crisis--for clashes in East Asia. We believe the breakthrough this time has another significant meaning. It tells the international community that as long as we have patience, the mechanism of multilateral talks is an effective way to defuse international crises. This means is far better than advocating hegemony, punishment, military forces as threats to resolve contradictions."
"Talks Are Good For The Six Parties"
The independent Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily News said in an editorial (9/20): "Both North Korea and Iran stated in a high profile way that they would develop nuclear weapons. The White House was weighed down with work to deal with these threats. If the threat of war in the Far East can be lowered, it will be helpful to alleviate the pressure on the U.S. military. In recent years, North Korea is under the threats of the deterioration of its economy and being attacked by the U.S. It has always been under a stage of instability. Although the U.S. military is held up by the situation in the Middle East, it still can strengthen economic containment. The U.S. FBI openly accused Macau's financial institutes for helping North Korea in money laundering. The allegation strongly conveyed a warning. If the U.S. heightens its economic sanctions over North Korea, Kim Jong-Il will be in a very difficult position. This is one of the reasons why North Korea agreed to compromise."
"Six-party Talks A Significant Diplomatic Achievement For China"
The center-left Chinese-language Sing Pao Daily News wrote in an editorial (9/20): "After marathon-style meetings for many years, the six-party talks driven by China finally made a breakthrough. North Korea agreed to give up all its nuclear plans, whereas the U.S. agreed to establish normal relations with North Korea gradually. The major achievement of the talks shows China's huge and positive influences in the international affairs. It also shows that the most effective way to resolve international issues is mutual understanding and mutual accommodation. For Hong Kong, it can learn from the mainland's opening and reform experiences to help North Korea to merge with the international community and seize the upcoming abundant of business opportunities."
"China Makes Diplomatic Achievement"
The pro-PRC Chinese-language Wen Wei Po had this editorial (9/20): "The fourth round of the six-party talks yesterday passed a common document in a format of joint declaration, which represents a crucial step forward towards lasting peace, cooperation and prosperity in the Korean Peninsula, as well as the whole region. This is an important breakthrough made for the six-party talks that started two years ago. It is also an important achievement of China's peaceful diplomacy. China's status as a big power in the region is, therefore, established. It will be good for safeguarding peace and stability in the Northeast region."
"China Is Praised For Its Efforts"
The pro-PRC Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao remarked in an editorial (9/20): "The outcome of a 'balanced and win-win situation' reflects that there is no 'sole superiority' in the North Korean nuclear issue, nor is there any 'sole winner.' The North Korean government finally agreed to give up nuclear weapons and it made a pledge in the 'joint statement.' This is a wise decision because this decision helps to ease North Korea from the huge economic pressure and it gives North Korea favorable conditions for creating a new situation. The Bush administration also understands that continuing to adopt a tough stance by threatening or suppressing North Korea will not be able to make North Korea to succumb. If North Korea does not give up nuclear weapons, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will just be empty talk. The joint statement is a formal diplomatic document and there is a binding force for all signatories. The U.S. must abide by the joint statement."
TAIWAN: "Beijing, Pyongyang Working Together To Thwart The United States"
Lai I-chug, Foreign Policy Studies Director of the Taiwan Think Tank, commented the centrist, pro-status quo China Times (9/21): “The fourth round of the Six-Party Talks reached a consensus on ‘agreements on some principles’ seven days after they resumed meeting. But judged from the contents of these agreements, the United States is the biggest loser while China and North Korea have both attained major achievements. It would be appropriate to say that both China and North Korea have joined hands to thwart the United States’ diplomatic efforts in the Asia-Pacific area severely.... China, which shows no interest in dealing with North Korea’s nuclear problem, is the biggest winner in this round of talks. Beijing, which was originally the one that suffered greatest pressure in the fourth round of talks, regained control of the talks by shifting the focus of the meetings to signing an agreement on principles. It also succeeded in keeping the talks going without falling apart, thus avoiding a direct showdown with the United States at the United Nations. Moreover, it sought to restrain Japan via Pyongyang by hosting the talks and controlling the security agenda of Northeast Asia, and thereby further bogging down the ‘U.S.-Japan alliance.’ Judged from this result, Beijing’s strategy is a real success."
"Six-Party Talks Reach Consensus, Still a Long Way to Lasting Peace"
The pro-independence Taiwan Daily editorialized (9/21): “Even though Taiwan is not a participant in the Six-Party Talks, nor is it directly involved in the tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the island must still be gravely concerned and alert about the situation development on the peninsula.... We particularly need to pay more attention to the increasingly important role played by China in the multilateral talks that involved multiple organizations. As China has gradually developed itself into a world manufacturing factory, attracting huge foreign investments, selling its goods to the whole globe, and accumulating numerous fortune and resources, it has become an irreversible trend that China will play an increasingly significant role on the international stage. China is also using every means it can to take advantage of its superiority to contain and isolate Taiwan. The Beijing government has a comprehensive, well-planned strategy in an attempt to crush Taiwan from inside.”
"Can North Korea Nuclear Pact Serve As Model For Taiwan?"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language China Post editorialized (9/21): “If the landmark agreement on energy aid for North Korea’s promise to abandon its nuclear-weapons programs--reached at the six-party talks on Tuesday in the host-capital Beijing--can be backed up by enforceable implementation plans expected o be worked out in a follow-up meeting in November, it will lead to the elimination of a major flashpoint in this part of the world. If so, the world will naturally shift its attention to another potential tinderbox in the region: Taiwan. But will it be possible that the method of bringing in third parties to jointly persuade North Korea into giving up its nuclear aspirations in the interest of peace and stability be used to resolve the issue of Taiwan?... Such tensions [in Taiwan] are potentially explosive and need to be tackled at source. Given that, mediation by major world powers appears to be the best possible approach in the absence of effective efforts by Taipei and Beijing to settle their contentious ideological differences.... Undoubtedly, the United States is the country most appropriate, and most influential, to play a role in mediating the political differences between Taiwan and China. But Washington has been reluctant to take on such a job, a position far different from its policy on North Korea.... But this Washington policy of wanting to preserve the political status quo does not go far enough to effectively deal with the independence issue, thus unable to remove the fuse of tensions that have the potential to plunge Taiwan and the Chinese mainland into a war eventually.... But the newly achieved peaceful atmosphere across the Taiwan Strait could be disturbed by President Chen’s new intentions to forge a security alliance with Washington and Tokyo, taking advantage of the two governments’ desire to contain China’s rise. Chen’s policy appears to have won positive responses, though mostly made in a low-key manner. Whatever forms such a triangular cooperation finally take, it would surely give a major boost to Chen’s position in addressing Beijing’s relations, and encourage him to stick with his political cause. Such developments would certainly worry Beijing and prompt it to adopt retaliatory measures.”
"North Korea Gets More By Returning To What It Was Before"
Li Ming, head of National Chengchi University’s Department of Diplomacy opined in the conservative, pro-unification United Daily News (9/20): “As a matter of fact, [regarding the Six-Party Talks held in Beijing Monday,] North Korea has gained more than it did before over these years because it was rewarded for its insistence. Washington, on the other hand, is becoming less powerful with its relations with North Korea or even with South Korea. Seoul and Pyongyang have joined hands and asked the United States to pay the bill. Moreover, [the talks] showed that Beijing is mature with regard to its diplomatic operations; it has gained both face and substantial benefits. North Korea, on the other hand, is the biggest winner. Viewed from the common statement concluded in the fourth round of Six-Party Talks, it seems as if Washington has given up all its previous insistences [on North Korea]. The United States, after having acting very tough for a few years, has made even more concessions when it comes to its policy with North Korea.... In the meantime, South Korea has demonstrated strong nationalism in the talks that Washington was unable to ignore.... The United States has demonstrated rationality and respect to Pyongyang during this round of talks. This is really not easy for the Bush administration. It may be important that Washington has made concessions, but it is evident that many countries have joined to speak in favor of Pyongyang. It does not matter that important whether Washington-Pyongyang ties will be normalized. The key lies in whether the security and stability mechanism in Northeast Asia will become normalized.”
"Beijing Should No Longer Be Overlooked When It Comes To International Affairs"
Journalist Chen Tung-hsu wrote this analysis in the conservative, pro-unification United Daily News (9/20): “The Six-Party Talks aimed at resolving a nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula have finally reaped major results following two years’ worth of endeavor. The fact that Pyongyang has agreed to give up its nuclear weapons program has helped to remove a serious threat to the United States and Japan for the time being and has defused a bomb in the northeastern backyard of China, which might have gone off any time. From now on, it will be easier for Beijing to concentrate more on cross-Strait issues. Another point of major significance with regard to the success of the Six-Party Talks is that Beijing is playing a more and more important role in international affairs. The Six-Party Talks have proved objectively that when it comes to international politics or foreign affairs, Beijing’s influence can no longer be overlooked. The Six-Party Talks would likely fall apart without Beijing’s mediatory efforts, let alone bear any fruit. All these things show that in addition to the economic aspects, Beijing is striding forward to become a major regional political nation.... The success of the Six-Party Talks shows that Beijing’s strength in negotiations and the political and economic power it possesses are getting bigger and bigger. In the meantime time, Beijing’s active involvement in international affairs and in resolving regional disputes has made countries like the United States, Japan [and] the European Union unable to ignore its voice. As the security threat in the northeastern part of mainland China is soon to be removed, Beijing will be more than able to concentrate its diplomatic force on issues such as the war on terrorism, its relationship with Japan and [matters related to] Taiwan. When it comes to cross-Strait issues, as Beijing’s influence in international affairs increases, the situation that other countries will take sides with Beijing will become more and more evident. As a result, it will be more difficult for Taiwan to maintain its diplomatic relations with other countries or to play a role in the international community.”
JAPAN: "Six-Party Agreement: Finally At The Starting Point"
The liberal Asahi editorialized (9/20): "A joint statement concerning North Korea's nuclear programs was issued at the six-party talks in Beijing. North Korea has pledged to eliminate all its nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs. The best news for Japan and the rest of the international community was that the joint statement included this promise on the part of Pyongyang. Needless to say, this will not come to pass soon. Long and difficult discussions await concerning the conditions and terms.... The joint statement did not mention specific procedures or timing with regard to whether the North would abandon its nuclear programs before or after receiving economic assistance and security guarantees. It is also not clear at what point the North will return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and submit to inspections.... The importance of the agreement, however, should not be underestimated. While we can hardly condone the attitude of North Korea, which developed nuclear weapons in secret and practiced nuclear brinkmanship with the international community, there is no option available other than persistent negotiations."
"Tough Road Ahead For DPRK's Abandonment Of Nuclear Programs"
The top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri observed (9/20): "The agreement reached Monday at the six-party talks in Beijing was, to be sure, a step forward. However, key issues have been left for later. This is the first time that delegates to the talks have adopted a joint statement in which North Korea pledged to abandon all its nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs since talks began two years and one month ago.... Pyongyang's full disclosure of its nuclear programs will be the starting point for future talks, which will be much more difficult. In the joint statement, the other five participating nations expressed 'respect' for the North's insistence on its right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The five nations also avoided the issue of providing North Korea with a light water reactor, saying that the matter would 'be discussed at an appropriate time.'... Instead, the five countries expressed their intention to provide energy and economic assistance, including a South Korean offer of 2 million kilowatts of electricity. The North not only did not suspend nuclear development during the Beijing talks but has also shown signs of resuming operation of nuclear reactors, extracting used nuclear fuel rods, and constructing a larger nuclear reactor. It cannot be said that Pyongyang has made a strategic decision to abandon nuclear development.... It has become clear once more that a comprehensive settlement of the nuclear, missile, and abduction issues will be a prerequisite to the normalization of Japan's relations with North Korea."
"Joint Statement Is Only The Starting Point"
The business-oriented Nihon Keizai editorialized (9/20): "We welcome the joint statement reached Monday at the six-party talks in Beijing that calls on North Korea to abandon all its nuclear weapons and nuclear programs, return to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and submit to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). At the same time, we want to point out that the joint accord is only the starting point of a long road toward Pyongyang's abandonment of its nuclear programs, as a host of serious issues remain, including how to verify the existence of and then eliminate the North's uranium enrichment program, something it first admitted to but later denied. Both the U.S. and Japan expressed their intention to 'take measures' for normalizing relations with North Korea. However, normalization of ties between Pyongyang and Tokyo will be impossible without a settlement of the abduction issue.... How to link economic assistance and normalization talks with North Korea's abandonment of its nuclear programs will also be an issue."
INDONESIA: "Anticlimax Of North Korea Nuclear Issue"
Leading independent daily Kompas remarked (9/20): “Tension over a nuclear crisis in North Korea eased when the country announced it has decided to drop its nuclear program. A negotiation team made up of representatives from S. Korea, China, the U.S., Japan and Russia say that North Korea will still be allowed to develop its nuclear program for peaceful purposes, such as to develop power plants. The team has also decided to provide economic assistance to North Korea. The crisis over North Korea’s nuclear program emerged three years ago after the U.S. accused the country of developing nuclear weapons, which North Korea denied. The issue became more sensitive when North Korea refused to allow into the country a UN Nuclear Inspection Team and withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Pact. In February 2005, North Korea admitted to possessing nuclear weapons. It was feared that the country would use its nuclear weapons after being cornered by the international community, and there is widely held belief that nuclear weapons are most dangerous in the hands of dangerous regimes. The West perceives North Korea as dangerous, especially for its own people, because of its reputation. The isolated and repressive government of North Korea has forced its people to live in misery, while the government concentrated more on nuclear weapons.
MALAYSIA: "A Subtle Improvement In The 6-party Talks"
Government-influenced Chinese language daily China Press editorialized (9/21): "North Korea finally made an obvious stance to abandon its nuclear programs for military use. The U.S. and Japanese counterparts viewed this as good news as the 6-party talks have been dwindling to a halt after much negotiation. To make the North Koreans change their minds is practically no easy task. Nonetheless, that could be regarded as the twilight of peace in the Northeastern hemisphere; it is yet too early to be optimistic to say that the crisis in this region is gone for good. To agree on the nuclear standoff is merely a promise--to reach an understanding on this issue will be time consuming and involve constant efforts by the five countries and the United Nations. Thereafter, the performance and execution of this promise on the nuclear disarmament is yet to be seen. On the whole, the North Koreans indeed have a way with the negotiations, both technically and strategically. Their soft approach on the standoff issue could be a requirement of current circumstances. If other demands arise in future, we will see different diplomatic tactics. If North Korea can overcome their famine and other dilemmas after this, it would certainly be encouraging."
NEW ZEALAND: "Korea Deal Welcome, But Fragile"
The leading, center-left New Zealand Herald editorialized (Internet version, 9/21): "Understandable skepticism has greeted North Korea's pledge to stop developing nuclear weapons and rejoin international arms treaties. No other reaction is prudent, given the many false dawns orchestrated by Kim Jong-Il's impoverished and diplomatically isolated state."
SINGAPORE: "Nuke Pact On Knife's Edge"
The pro-government Straits Times editorialized (9/21): "Although the accord is nothing more than a statement of intent and is almost identical to the renounced 1994 Agreed Framework, it binds the two protagonists to implementation talks on the agreed principles at the next round set for November. One should be thankful for the pullback from a perilous stand-off. The echo of 1994 is disconcerting, but the two nations have now a stronger motivation than before to avoid a repeat of history.... The U.S. was under Chinese pressure to agree to the formula for meeting Pyongyang's electricity needs. The Bush administration has never liked the proposition, but it is up against the immutable truth that Pyongyang will not give up its nuclear option for anything less, with diplomatic recognition into the bargain. It is a reasonable trade in the circumstances.... Neither side trusts the other, each with good reason. Sequencing is to be decided in tough negotiations ahead. There will be plenty more of posturing leading up to November. Both sides can play the game, but they are better off focusing their energies on coming up with a timeline that is mutually acceptable. They know this alone will decide if the Beijing pact stands or falls."
SOUTH KOREA: "Backtracking In Pyongyang"
The independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (9/21): “The North Korean Foreign Ministry’s statement--that the North will only return to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and respect the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) after it receives light-water reactors--is a statement that destroys the roots of the joint statement issued only one day earlier at the Six-Party Talks.... Pyongyang may be seeking to get concessions on light-water reactors from the U.S., but that is a serious misjudgment. Seoul and Washington’s bottom line is that they may consider providing light-water reactors after the North returns to the NPT and allows inspectors to return. If the North continues to make unreasonable demands, even before the ink dries, no country will ever trust the North again.... Furthermore, the North’s attitude proves how hard it will be to reach a final resolution on the nuclear standoff. This is not the time for Seoul to congratulate itself on a diplomatic victory. It is a crucial time for it to come up with good follow-up measures and coordinate its policy with Washington.”
"The Confusion Surrounding Light Water Reactors"
The moderate Hankook Ilbo editorialized (9/21): “It is true that the ambiguous wording in the joint statement issued at the Six-Party Talks of the timing for the provision of light-water reactors to North Korea provided an excuse for the North to make such an unreasonable demand. Pyongyang seems to be taking advantage of this ambiguity in the joint statement to gain the upper hand in the upcoming fifth round of the Six-Party Talks slated for November. However, given the content of the joint statement and the positions of the parties concerned in the talks, such a North Korean demand is nothing more than an unreasonable gambit that threatens the multilateral dialogue framework.... What the North must do ahead of the fifth round of the talks, in which the issue of ‘actions for actions’ will be discussed earnestly, is not to make this kind of unreasonable demand that makes us doubt the North’s true intentions, but take steps to build up international trust in it.”
"Resolve The Dispute Over Light-Water Reactors"
The nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized (9/21): “We do not see any reason to read too much into the divergent positions between the U.S. and North Korea over providing light-water reactors to the North or to ‘over-interpret’ the situation as the one that seriously shakes the foundation of the negotiation framework. This development was somewhat expected when the joint statement was adopted. The statement only says that the parties agreed to ‘discuss providing light-water reactors at an appropriate time’ without specifying when that time would be appropriate. Accordingly, the current situation can be seen as a war of nerves between the U.S. and North Korea as they try to seize a more advantageous upper hand. Ultimately, the light-water reactor problem is a matter that should be resolved through a long negotiating process to discuss the details of how to implement the joint statement. Realistically, it is highly likely that the timing for discussions on the issue will be coordinated in line with the progress made in the North’s abandonment of its nuclear programs.”
"N. Korea Should Win Trust Before Demanding Light-Water Reactors"
The pro-government Seoul Shinmun editorialized (9/21): “As evidenced by the Geneva Accord between the U.S. and North Korea a decade ago, the North’s attempt to link the provision of light-water reactors, the completion of which will take a long time, and its return to the NPT can be seen as a tactic to delay dismantlement of its nuclear programs.... It is reasonable for anyone to see that North Korea should receive electricity from the ROK only when it starts to dismantle its nuclear weapons and programs and that the discussion of providing light-water reactors to the North should start around that time. The North should not take issue with the light-water reactor problem while indicating the possibility of annulling the agreement made at the Six-Party Talks, but rather assume an attitude of observing its promises this time without fail.”
"N. Korea’s Reactor Dreams Should Not Grow Further"
The conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (9/20): “This joint statement comes a grueling two years since the Six-Party Talks on North Korea’s nuclear programs started in August 2003. Had the current round of the talks failed to reach an agreement, it would have essentially been the end of their credibility and created yet another crisis. That danger has been averted, and a fresh round of the multilateral talks in November is tasked with working out the details of what the participants have agreed on in the statement and formulating an order of priorities and schedule for them, which would then be the formula for resolving the nuclear dispute to replace the 1994 Geneva Accord.... However, whether or not things will ever get that far depends on the light-water reactor problem. The international community shares a view that, although the provision of light-water reactors to Pyongyang was promised a decade ago on the assumption that it is technically difficult to make weapons-grade nuclear materials from this type of reactor, such materials can be produced from the reactor, and it is therefore better for North Korea to have no nuclear facilities at all. During the latest round of the talks, the ROKG persuaded the U.S. to include in the joint statement a recognition of the North’s right to civilian use of nuclear energy and the commitment to ‘discuss’ the matter of light-water reactors. The concessions may have been inevitable to prevent the talks from collapsing altogether. However, the ROKG must persuade the North at the next stage, where details of how to implement the agreement will be worked out. The ROKG must make Pyongyang clearly understand that the provision of two million kilowatts of free electricity is premised on the North giving up any thought of light-water reactors. North Korea must be made to realize that any notion it may have entertained of taking the free electricity from the ROK and getting the reactors as well is simply a pipe dream.”
"A Welcome End To The Fourth Round Of Six-Party Talks"
The independent Dong-a Ilbo editorialized (9/20): “This round of the Six-Party Talks has succeeded in turning the ‘crisis situation’ of the North Korean nuclear standoff into the ‘situation for earnest negotiations.’ Thus, all the parties concerned in the talks should now move to put the agreement into action without a hitch. In particular, North Korea should immediately return to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), even though the joint statement does not specify the timing for the North to do so. This would be the first test to decide the North’s genuineness and the success or failure of the joint statement. Furthermore, the North should promptly start working-level talks to receive IAEA nuclear inspections. Only if these tangible measures are taken, the U.S., China, and Russia will prepare to provide energy, or heavy fuel oil, to the North, with the ROK embarking on steps to supply two million kilowatts of electricity to the communist state. This is what the principle of ‘words for words’ and ‘actions for actions’ contained in the joint statement is all about.”
"Time To Put Agreement Into Practice"
The moderate Hankook Ilbo editorialized (9/20): “This joint statement carries great significance in that it not only provides a stepping stone for establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the whole of Northeast Asia, but also paves the way to substantially end the Cold War and settle peace in the region for the first time in 60 years after World War II.... The task at hand now is how to put the agreement reached at the Six-Party Talks into practice. There is concern that the light-water reactor issue, on which the parties involved in the talks agreed ambiguously, might reemerge as an obstacle to ultimately resolving the North Korean nuclear problem. However, given that the reason why North Korea insists on having a light-water reactor is to secure a card to use in the event that the U.S. would not abide by its promise, if the U.S. and North Korea could build up mutual trust, the light-water issue would no longer pose an obstacle to resolving the nuclear issue.”
"Joint Statement Opens The Way For Peace"
The nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized (9/20): “The reason the U.S. and North Korea, whose divergent positions never seemed to be narrowed, have found points of compromise are because of a sense of crisis about the worst of what could happen if an agreement was not reached. Everyone was going to be a loser if the talks fell apart, and that sense of urgency brought about final concessions that had looked so difficult.... The agreement does not guarantee successful negotiations in the future. The negotiations will run into many problems as they tackle the concrete details. In particular, there are many more issues to be discussed regarding the North’s use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and the light-water reactor problem. In that sense, this agreement can be called the successful buttoning of the first button in a long negotiation process. However, the participating countries and in particular, the U.S. and North Korea, did arrive at an agreement after many complications, and since they have agreed to take action based on the principle of ‘words for words, actions for actions,’ there is reason to hope for positive progress. We hope to see the participating nations work even harder so that they can produce a final and complete agreement based on the one agreed to on Monday. Furthermore, that the agreement includes a separate forum for the directly related parties to discuss a permanent peace regime for the Korean Peninsula is also reason for higher hopes. The related parties agreed to focus on the fundamental problem of changing the unstable armistice regime on the peninsula to a peace regime, going beyond simply resolving the North Korean nuclear issue. We hope to see the destruction of the Cold War regime on the peninsula and in Northeast Asia and the swift establishment of the roots of peace.”
"'Forward-Looking Milestone' For Establishing Peace In Northeast Asia"
Senior Journalist Kim Young-hie opined in the independent Joong-Ang Ilbo (9/20): “The agreement on a six-point joint statement reached at the Six-Party Talks can be hailed as a huge milestone on the long journey to the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue, and furthermore, to the eventual dissolution of the Cold War legacy lingering on the Korean Peninsula. Disputes may arise at any time as has always been the case with the talks involving North Korea, and the light-water reactor issue is one of them. Still, the latest agreement produced at the multilateral talks is undoubtedly the crucial first step toward the resolution of not only the North Korean nuclear issue, but also the overall problems of the Korean Peninsula.... For now, there are two major tasks lying ahead of us. First, based on the agreement reached in Beijing, we should resolve the nuclear dispute, which we must further develop into normalized ties between Pyongyang with Washington and Tokyo, and the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula. Second, we should launch a full-blown discussion on ways to resolve the dispute on North Korea’s nuclear programs, and establish peace on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, with the ultimate goal of declaring a ‘peace charter’ of Northeast Asia. According to a high-level source, behind the recent Beijing agreement made possible by further U.S. concessions, there is Washington’s concern that, unless it rushes to resolve the nuclear issue, North Korea’s economic dependence on China will reach a dangerous point and this risks reducing the North to being a fourth province of China. The comment by the source is quite significant because this U.S. thinking could be a valuable asset for us to take advantage of, given our deep concern about a fragile power structure of Northeast Asia that might be dominated by the U.S. and China rivalry for hegemony.”
"More Than We Could Expect"
The independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (9/20): “The problem is how faithfully the countries involved in the Six-Party Talks will observe the terms of the joint statement. North Korea did not make an issue of the light-water reactor, but if this becomes an issue again, other negotiations such as normalizing U.S.-North Korea relations could make slow progress. There is also the possibility that if a party hesitates to follow the joint statement with this excuse, everything would return to the starting point. Let’s hope that North Korea and the U.S. will think of this joint statement as the start of resolving the problems and put forth strong efforts to make the follow-up negotiations go smoothly.”
INDIA: "Devil In The Details"
The centrist Times Of India editorialized (9/21): "If the sudden announcement of an accord on North Korea after two years of negotiations going nowhere sounded too good to be true, that was indeed the case. Pyongyang has come up with fresh demands before negotiators could uncork their Champagne..... This time, Pyongyang wants the reactors delivered first, before it dismantles its weapons program, and that could undermine the accord.... The remaining problems have to do with the modality of a deal, not its fundamental character. They could be resolved by further negotiations. The reason this is important is that the same is applicable to Iran, about which Washington has been getting hot under the collar lately. Tehran's nuclear weapons program is less developed than Pyongyang's, and may be in very rudimentary stages; its regime is less isolated as well."
"Victory For Diplomacy"
The centrist Tribune expressed the view (9/21): "The success in persuading North Korea to agree to abandon its nuclear weapons program is a tribute to the international efforts to end the crisis through dialogue.... It is a matter of great relief for not only the six nations...engaged in the prolonged exercise, but also the rest of the world.... There is a lesson to be learnt from the North Korean experience: perseverance in pursuing the dialogue process ultimately pays off. Every party is a gainer. This rarely happens when military might is used, as can be seen in the case of Iraq, which formed along with North Korea and Iran what President George W. Bush described as the Axis of Evil. The success achieved at the North Korean front should encourage the European Three--Britain, Germany and France--and the international community not to give up the path of negotiations in their efforts to get the Iranian nuclear crisis resolved."
"N. Korea Deal Turns Focus On Iran"
Associate editor Indrani Bagchi analyzed in centrist The Times Of India (9/20): “So, the dear leader has prevailed over the proliferating ayatollahs. As the six-nation talks in Beijing hammered out a hard-fought nuclear agreement with North Korea, it will now focus international attention on the remaining member of Bush’s `axis of evil’, Iran. And by extension, India.... It was therefore no coincidence that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated as he was leaving New York, `India is not holding any brief for Iran’s nuclear program. We believe that another nuclear weapon state in our neighborhood is not desirable. We also believe Iran, as a signatory to the NPT must honour all its commitments’. A collateral benefit for India is the US’ non-proliferation jehadis may find their space constricted as they go about making a disingenuous equation between the India-US nuclear deal, Iran and North Korean crises. Another lesson the government here has drawn is the kind of orchestrated pressure campaign the US and its media is capable of. Indian officials attribute this to US bureaucrats and the non-proliferation lobby. It was with due cynicism that Indian officials also noted the complete absence of any reference to Pakistan regarding Iran’s nuclear program.... The North Korean deal is principally a success story for Chinese diplomacy, not American.... It’s a role India aspires to play and the world fully expects India to play, but India remains caught in an old mindset of being a marginal player in global politics."
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