Michael Green on Bilateral Talks and Sanctions

Beyond Christine Ahn’s alternative universe, the insiders are unanimous for now, whether on or off the record:  for the foreseeable future, the Obama Administration intends to sustain — if not intensify — sanctions until North Korea disarms.  Like most of you, I suspect that eventually, we’ll lift them for another promise to disarm, but for now, the unanimous message I’m hearing is to the contrary:

A major factor in Washington’s reluctance to rush into talks, Green says, is that “the Obama administration sees far greater prospects of success with Iran so they don’t want to let North Korea set a bad precedent.” He adds: “They don’t want to send any signal that there’s going to be a loosening of sanctions in exchange for just talking.”  [Council on Foreign Relations]

The sequencing here is the most important piece to watch.  If we get it wrong, there is no chance of disarming North Korea.  If we get it right, there is a very slim chance, not exceeding 5%, that it will be complete, verifiable, and irreversible.

Who else has observed how much more sense former Bush Administration officials have made after Obama’s inauguration than when they were actually in the White House?

In any event, the whole piece is well worth reading.