A Highly Successful Conclusion to the Six-Party Talks

It’s  the best result we could possibly have hoped for from this worn-out  charade.

The U.S. delegation seems to have gone out of its way in the talks. Hill was quoted by China’s People’s Daily as saying his North Korean counterpart Kim Kye-gwan “is obviously professional, and he has a lot of experience, so because he has more experience than I do in nuclear negotiations, it made me have to work hard. I have to do a lot of homework in order to meet with him.” …  Meanwhile, Daniel Glaser, the U.S. Treasury Department’s deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes, used words like “productive” and “useful” to describe two days of talks on U.S. financial sanctions on the Macau-based Banco Delta Asia with the North Korean side in a bid to soften the atmosphere.  [here]

Heave a mighty sigh of relief; after all, Kim Jong Il’s own propaganda machine  had already excluded the possibility that he would disarm.  The danger was that a desperate Bush Administration would validate  that propaganda to exit from office  under the cover of a deal — any deal — and  pass this fetid status quo down the road.  One or two more slow learners have now concluded that there’s no dealing with North Korea.   Selig Harrison  and  Wendy Sherman  look incrementally dumber than  they did last week.  Roh Moo Hyun’s approval rating may now be lower than Emperor Hideyoshi’s.  We’ve picked  up another great excuse to proceed with the Great Unplugging of Kim Jong Il, and Tom Lantos is  less likely to oppose it.  As Richardson put it, our “Or Else, What?” moment has arrived (again).  And we owe it all to Kim Jong Il’s  own stupidity.  Look what the AP’s Bo-Mi Lim, usually a transparent proponent of “engagement” reports:

In more than three years of meetings, the North has only committed in principle to disarm but taken no concrete steps to do so — instead going ahead with its first nuclear test on Oct. 9.

“There will be opinions questioning the credibility of the six-party talks,” Japanese envoy Kenichiro Sasae said, without elaborating. He did not say what alternative formats would be proposed, if any.

The U.S. envoy accused North Korea ahead of Friday’s meetings of not addressing the actual issue of its atomic programs.

“When the (North) raises problems, one day it’s financial issues, another day it’s something they want but they know they can’t have, another day it’s something we said about them that hurt their feelings,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said. “What they need to do is to get serious about the issue that made them such a problem … their nuclear activities.”

In other words, we extracted all the cosmetic value we  could have wanted from these talks, and substantively, North Korea has made it clear that we’re getting nowhere slowly:

Even when it takes up the nuclear issue, Kim said the North wouldn’t immediately talk about dismantling the bombs it has already made. But he promised the North won’t launch a nuclear attack or sell its atomic technology.

“Since we are already a proud nuclear state, we have already announced that we will not threaten other countries with nuclear (weapons) and fully live up to our responsibility of preventing proliferation,” Kim said.

Feel better?  You shouldn’t. 

The United States should consider the danger that we could transfer nuclear weapons to terrorists, that we have the ability to do so.

““ North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye-Gwan, April 2005

Those words,  in themselves, are a causus belli.  It is simply our inability to take evil at its face value that prevents us from constructing and pursuing  a policy designed to deal with this evil at its source.  I don’t believe that this war is best fought, at the least cost, though conventional means, but the North Korean regime will continue to pursue more  efficient means to murder until it is destroyed. 


  1. I’ve predicted NK will not live to see January 2009. I have no Marcus Noland-type details leading me to that conclusion. It is a hunch based on signs out of Korea and moves taken by the US and others over the past year to two years.

    But, much of my gut feeling hinges on the US maintaining its current approach.

    If we back of the latest sanctions from 2006 that seem to clear have hurt Pyongyang where it counts, or we go back to “enduring” NK’s illegal activities aimed at gaining badly needed foreign currency by simply ignoring them again —

    — I think the North can putter along longer, perhaps indefinately.

    If we keep up the current effort to chase down NK’s illegal money funneling operations and maintain what is the status quo right now, I really believe NK will go down within the next two years.

    If we would push from the inside by getting a lot of information and small scale, easy-to-hide IT hardware so that groups within Korea can spread the word about the outside world, I believe NK will implode more rapidly than has been thought possible.

    If, however, we back off sanctions and go back to business as usual per the 1990s, we will probably witness Kim Jong Il sucessfully setting up a sucessor and finding a viable balance between the misery of his people and the regime’s ability to survive.


  2. Right now its a sellers market for nuke bombs. Won’t last forever though. Iran is working for its own nuclear fuel cycle. They will inspire Arab countries from Saudi Arabia to Egypt to acquire nukes of their own. Once that happens, then its a buyer’s market out there. Of course the way Russia is going, the market might already soon be flooded. At any rate, the Norks will no doubt sell when they have few competitors. For them, the harder our sanctions bite, the easier it will be to justify going commercial.


  3. Hooters diplomacy? Yes that has brought to my mind a few times when headlights have been soothing to irritable situations generally speaking. Specifically it has been highly narcotic to me, an irritable person. So, perhaps the Norks will be soothed too.
    Nothing else seems to calm those diminutive thugs, so give the augmentative franchise a try.


  4. This whole obsession with NK Nuke is totally useless crap.

    Bush Admin is out of touch with reality on so many different levels it’s not even funny anymore. The only thing Koreans care about is Unification and these worthless Bushites are only screwing things up.

    If Roh cares to matter at all, he really ought to try very hard to push US out of Korea. Set some sort of real talk for Unification by dealing with China directly.


  5. “The only thing Koreans care about is Unification and these worthless Bushites are only screwing things up.”

    This is correct — but I get the feeling from the comment the real point was completely off.

    The only thing South Koreans care about is Unification —

    —more specifically, how to put it off as long as possible.

    The percentage of South Koreans who want unification sooner rather than later (meaning with a poverty-stricken North) —- probably doesn’t even reach into the teens…..


  6. Usinkorea, i agree with your time table.

    But I don’t think sanctions or no sanctions really matter. Information blockade is broken, so sanctions probably only affect time and severity of collapse.


  7. VW,

    I would agree, but I see it as two tracks that do overlap.

    On the information side, we are talking about NK being eaten from the inside out via a type of “grassroots” movement. The key there is at what tipping point (or points) will enough Korean citizens feel that an uprising (which can take on many different forms) and possible or even certain death is worth it????

    It doesn’t have to be a 1917 type Russian Revolution that sees the grassroots triumph. If a small group move is made against the leadership, and the bulk of the rest of the society just decides to sit at home and watch, if the small group is placed just right with access to the regime leaders, and the rot that convinces people to stay home reaches high up into the military as well, we might see a fairly “bloodless” coup….

    but I sure as heck would not bet on it. it could happen, though, via the information route.

    The other track, though, isn’t tied to the information. It is tied to the money and goods the regime leaders need to keep happy the percentage of the upper crust it needs to keep happy to keep them active in keeping the screws turned on the society as a whole.

    Last year, with the new sanctions and diligence on older ones showed by the US and followed by nations like even China —

    —it was pretty clear the regime started to squeal.

    And the only likely reason it squealed is that it really cut into Kim Jong Il’s ability to please his crew.

    In short, a the Pyongyang regime needs a certain amount of money and goods to spread around the society enough to keep enough people on board supporting it ruthlessly.

    It really is like a mafia organization.

    If the big guys at the top, or at the top out in the provinces, and in the military units, are kept happy enough, they can keep the masses down for the most part. I’m not saying a total grassroots rebellion is impossible — in fact, I don’t believe you can end up ruling a people who don’t want to be ruled once enough of them have decided death is worth it in the effort to resist — but as long as enough of the top level in Korean society is kept satisfied, any successful rebellion would be a bloodbath.

    But, if the regime’s lack of money and resources reaches a point it is hard to keep the provincial level elites firmly on board, the regime becomes pretty vulnerable.

    I would bet money —–

    if one province or substantial potion of a province went renegade, and the military was unable to swoop in and slaughter the people remotely connected to it quickly

    other areas of North Korea would follow suit.

    I get the feeling that what a lot of people outside of the Pyongyang area are waiting for is a big sign that resistance is possible.


  8. Can you say “echo”?


    “Gause also said it would not be the common people of the North, but rather a group of elites who would spark the government’s collapse.

    “The regime is vulnerable in terms of the elite. If the elite holds together and supports Kim’s regime, it will continue on,’’ the expert was quoted as saying by the program.”

    “He said the U.N. resolution to impose non-military sanctions, including banning the North from importing luxurious goods, would deal a blow to Kim’s leadership because the reclusive leader would lose the carrots encouraging the elite group to be loyal to him.”

    And I don’t even get paid for my thoughts….