Sending propaganda balloons into North Korea could trigger a military response. Seoul should support a U.S.-North Korea military-to-military channel to lay the groundwork for a new round of Six Party talks.
Topic: Six-party talks
In the U.S. foreign policy community, permanent peace arrangements in Korea are normally considered a means for helping to resolve the nuclear issue with North Korea. Advocates of a peace regime, including myself, have generally embraced the view that if South Korea and North Korea could reach a comprehensive settlement of outstanding security issues, with the assistance and participation of the United States and China, this settlement would effectively resolve the nuclear issue and lead to the creation of a forum for multilateral security cooperation in Northeast Asia.
Is North Korea dictating U.S. security policy in Northeast Asia? As Pyongyang ratchets up tensions in the region on a near-daily basis, now preparing for a rocket launch, it is a fair question. The Obama administration appears to be merely reacting, allowing events to move from bad to worse. The offensive plays all seem to be coming from North Korea’s side as the failed state misguidedly uses its brinkmanship tactics to gain international attention and maximize its negotiating leverage.
North Korea followed through on its Oct. 3 commitment to disable its nuclear facilities this quarter, but resisted giving a “complete and correct” declaration of its nuclear programs. At the end of the quarter, the U.S. faced a diplomatic dilemma: how to incentivize Pyongyang to continue the disabling process, while pressuring North Korea to come clean on its past nuclear activities.
In an historic breakthrough at the Six-Party Talks, North Korea committed to disabling its Yongbyon nuclear facilities and declaring all its nuclear programs by Dec. 31, 2007. It also pledged not to transfer nuclear materials, technology, or know-how. In exchange, the U.S. agreed to move toward normalizing relations with Pyongyang by fulfilling its commitment to take North Korea off the list of state sponsors of terrorism and end the application of the U.S. Trading with the Enemy Act as Pyongyang fulfills its denuclearization commitments.
North Korea promised to shut down and seal its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon this quarter in a deal that implements the Six-Party Talks September 2005 Joint Statement, committing Pyongyang to dismantling its nuclear weapons programs. To achieve this breakthrough, the Bush administration agreed to transfer back to North Korea approximately $25 million in funds that were frozen since the fall of 2005 in a Macau bank for reported laundering of U.S. money.
North Korea made good on its long-time threat to conduct a nuclear test when it exploded a small nuclear device of less than kiloton on Oct. 9. The test generated political shock waves and led to comprehensive sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council Oct. 14. Under tremendous pressure from the international community and China, in particular, North Korea announced Oct. 31 it would return to the Six-Party Talks.
In fits and starts, North Korea and the U.S. sought procedural common ground this quarter for resuming the Six-Party Talks on North Korea’s nuclear program. The deputy head of Pyongyang’s delegation, Ri Gun, traveled to New York in early March for a “working-level” meeting to discuss U.S. financial sanctions for North Korea’s alleged counterfeiting of U.S. dollars.
The Six-Party Talks on North Korea’s nuclear program suffered a major reversal this quarter as Washington and Pyongyang unleashed verbal attacks on each other over activities outside the scope of the negotiations – counterfeiting U.S. dollars, drug trafficking, and Pyongyang’s dismal human rights record. North Korea said it would boycott the talks until it obtained a high-level meeting with U.S. officials to discuss financial sanctions related to North Korea’s alleged counterfeiting.
For the first time in more than two year, diplomats at the Six-Party Talks made significant progress this quarter on the nuclear issue with North Korea. In a joint statement of principles, Pyongyang committed itself to “abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning at an early date to the treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.”