Freeing BDA Funds and Berlin Meeting

[imText1]On Monday, the US government pronounced to release all North Korean money from BDA. While the decision is a result of mutual agreement reached in Berlin between US and NK delegates, it is still an extraordinary measure.

Significance of freeing North Korean funds at BDA, Macao is no smaller than that of Feb 13 Agreement or ongoing US-NK normalization talks. It is a crucial move because the United States actually responded North Korea’s demand.

Since late 2005, Pyongyang had refused to talk and conducted missile launch and nuclear test, arguing that unless BDA issue solved there could be no progress in nuclear program. Washington, however, maintained the financial sanctions, punishment according to US domestic law, were not related to the six party talks. And the US government created worldwide pressure against North Korea by sending treasury officials throughout the world. And there added US sanctions.

Such extreme tension suddenly almost disappeared by the Berlin meeting in January.

Current activities of both countries allow analysts to assume that North Korea promised the US disablement of nuclear facilities in Yongbyon at the Berlin meeting. North Korean diplomats, however, shun commenting on plutonium and nuclear weapons in stock. Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said in New York “nuclear weapons are not a subject (of negotiation).” Given North Korean delegates words, it is unlikely that the US obtained North Korea’s approval of dumping current nuclear weapons.

Why did American diplomats compromise with BDA issue and others without North Korea’s commitment to destroy nukes in stock? We can only infer through other delegates or related officials’ words. South Korean presidential hopeful and former mayor of Seoul Lee Myung Bak told reporters after meeting with Chris Hill US Ass. Secretary of State “There is a critical reason why North Korea was forced to participate in the six party talks and the US was confident on what is going on.”

Hill’s confidence probably came from the unknown “critical reason.” And the US delegate made an interesting comment related to it; Hill said “there exists hawks on nuclear weapons issue in North Korean society and those hawks believe in nukes’ role in making North Korea a stronger nation.”

Interestingly, Hill’s explanation resembles very words of North Korean diplomats who usually pretend themselves as doves while charging so-called “military hawks” with all disruption of negotiation. Kim Jong Il is, of course, portrayed as a dove.

According to Hill’s words, it can presumed that what Kim Kye Gwan told Hill was as follows; “Hawks in Pyongyang directed nuclear tests. If US frees BDA funds, we, doves, will cooperate with disablement and other issues.”

Perhaps President Bush believed North Korean leadership’s commitment to denuclearization and decided to negotiate. Hwang Jang Yob former KWP secretary called the Feb 13 Agreement a clever victory of Kim Jong Il.

The Agreement would bring Washington some initial success in denuclearization of North Korea through disablement of nuclear facilities. If North Korea refuses to talk about and give up current nuclear weapons, however, it would be difficult for Washington policymakers to correct the bad behavior at once.