NK Policy Will Not Be Changed after the Election

[imText1]As the midterm election result of both houses of the U.S. turns out to be heavily favorable to the Democrats, much attention is focused on future of Bush administration’s North Korean policy.

Some speculate that, given Democratic Senators and House Representatives’ insistence on NK-US bilateral talks and appointment of special envoy in charge of negotiation with the North Koreans, President Bush’s policy is unavoidable to be softened.

Particularly since American voters blamed the failure of Bush’s foreign policy in general, there are some expectations of change in current NK policy of the United States.

Nevertheless, more scholars anticipate continued course of action by the Bush administration.

Foremost reason of the prediction is the successful result of current multilateral approach and financial sanctions, and the Bush administration’s content with them. Moreover, China has recently been participating in the multilateral sanctions and North Korea announced its return to the six-party talks last month, so, at least for now, the U.S. government is likely to maintain the present policy.

Also, American public opinion favors President Bush’s North Korean policy more after a nuclear test than before.

Of course, key Democrats such as Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Joseph Biden, a potential candidate of next chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, would argue for more persuasion and direct talks with North Korea.

However, the bilateral Geneva Agreed Framework is regarded as a failure even among many Democrats and the six-party-talks structure seems most realistic option for now. Therefore, even if a bilateral negotiation with North Korea resumes, it would not be an outspoken, high-level one.

Representative Tom Lantos, a Democrat supporter of US-NK bilateral talks, said “US foreign policy is like navigating a battleship, not a kayak.” And he emphasized “There will be no sudden change of course, and both Democrats and Republicans share basic objectives.”

If Bush appoints a Policy Coordinator by the end of this year as scheduled in the Military Commissions Act of 2006, post-midterm election NK policy of the Bush administration will be more apparent.

Professor Kim Taehyo of Sungkyunkwan University said “Denuclearization of North Korea is a common goal of the Democrats and Republicans, and since the Bush administration is already engaged in both pressure and negotiation at the same time, it is hard to expect a steep alteration in policy.”