February 14, 2007


U.S. Flexibility Credited in Nuclear Deal With N. Korea (Glenn Kessler and Edward Cody, February 14, 2007, Washington Post)

The six-nation deal to shut down North Korea's nuclear facility, four months after Pyongyang conducted its first nuclear test, was reached yesterday largely because President Bush was willing to give U.S. negotiators new flexibility to reach an agreement, U.S. officials and Asian diplomats said yesterday. [...]

The chief U.S. negotiator, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher R. Hill, had over time been viewed with suspicion by administration hawks. But, in recent weeks, he worked closely with a White House aide, Victor Cha, who has conservative bona fides on North Korea. Informal talks Cha had with the North Koreans -- including a chance encounter in the Beijing airport in December -- helped lead to the unusual negotiations Hill and Cha held with North Korean counterparts in Berlin last month, officials said.

Those bilateral talks -- which sketched out the parameters of the final deal -- were personally approved by Bush after he had insisted for four years that he would not allow direct U.S.-North Korean negotiations.

Under the agreement, North Korea will close and "seal" its main nuclear reactor at Yongbyon within 60 days in return for 50,000 tons of fuel oil, as a first step in its abandonment of all nuclear weapons and research programs.

North Korea also reaffirmed a commitment to disable the reactor in an undefined next phase of denuclearization, and to discuss with the United States and other nations its plutonium fuel reserves and other nuclear programs that "would be abandoned." In return for taking those further steps, the accord said, North Korea would receive additional "economic, energy and humanitarian assistance up to the equivalent of 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil."

The pledges -- cited in an agreement reached in Beijing by North and South Korea, China, Russia, Japan and the United States after six days of lengthy negotiations -- marked North Korea's first concrete commitment to implement an agreement in principle, dating to September 2005, to relinquish its entire nuclear program. In the view of U.S. and allied diplomats, they also amounted to a down payment on the establishment of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and of new relations among Northeast Asian countries.

The invasion of Iraq revealed how effective a sufficiently intrusive inspections regime could be. But it's important to remember that the most important tool of the inspector is the GPS unit.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 14, 2007 12:00 AM

"The invasion of Iraq revealed how effective a sufficiently intrusive inspections regime could be."

The invasion of Iraq proved that a modern nation can fill as many mass graves as its psychotic leader likes, and as long as he can get on America's bad side, the world won't care.

Any action we take that moves the day of Kim's demise further into the future is amoral, reprehensible, and downright un-American.

Posted by: at February 14, 2007 3:54 PM

I proudly take credit for the previous comment...

Posted by: b at February 14, 2007 3:55 PM