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North Korea's Sudden Reversal to Leniency

Park Hyun Min  |  2007-08-23 00:41
[imText1]At working group meeting for Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula held in Shenyang, China on the 17 of August, North Korea surprisingly vowed to settle the controversy over uranium enrichment program (UEP).

Until then, North Korea had argued for the US to provide evidence of the country developing UEP first. And, because of the Norths stubborn denial, the second step of the February 13 Agreement; reporting the list of every nuclear program had been regarded as the hardest of all forthcoming obstacles.

Of course, North Korea did not actually admit to have UEP on the meeting last week. Nonetheless, the attitude, much more willing to talk, of North Korea negotiators were something different from the past.

Some experts suggested that North Korea might have brought political issues other than promised beforehand to handle in Beijing talks. However, no such expectation materialized. North Koreas request for light water reactor on Thursday was not newest development.

Li Keun, chief negotiator on North Korean side and Foreign Ministrys director of American Affairs bureau, told his counterparts (North Korea) will declare every nuclear facility and program transparently. He did not even seem bothered by the order between declaration and disablement.

At the working group meeting for Economy and Energy Cooperation on the 7th and 8th of August, North Korean diplomats were generally lenient and practical. They were also very constructive last week, showing their willingness to sincerely talk by including Foreign Ministrys Arms Reduction Institute specialists.

Thus, participants of the six party talks are now hoping disablement before the year ends. Moreover, the UNs nuclear agency, IAEAs monitoring activities at Yongbyun has not been haltered.

Yet, warning not to be over-positive remains. Some interpret North Koreas change of attitude as not strategic, but only tactical.

Tactics as to useful tool in Seouls presidential election in 2007

North Korea is desperate to prevent the opposition Grand National Partys win in the upcoming presidential election.

And spread of peaceful mood in inter-Korean relations through the six party talks could help. In this case, the outcome of Beijing negotiation is merely subordinate to North Koreas strategy to prevent right wing government.

Even North Koreas sudden decision to accept plea from Seoul to have a summit could be taken as its will and resolute to influence South Korean politics.

However, others see the recent development as strategic one aimed at normalization of relationship between Washington and Pyongyang.

The reason for strategic shift is Bush administrations diversion from neo-con diplomacy since the by-election defeat, according to them. And North Korea seems to have decided to commit to normalization with the Bush administration.

Although the U.S. government confirms no normalization until full denuclearization, Pyongyang calculated the possibility of ending decades-long terrorist regime status by the States.

And the U.S. is responding: American officials have been mentioning highly enriched Uranium program, rather than Uranium enrichment program in general. In the former, lowly enriched Uranium could be excluded from negotiation, thus giving both sides a chance to compromise.

From the two differed arguments, answer to which one is correct would not be made until the end of South Koreas presidential election.
 
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