Tuesday, February 13, 2007

All are agreed on N. Korea disarmament

WaPo - N. Korea Agrees to Nuclear Disarmament
North Korea agreed Tuesday after arduous talks to shut down its main nuclear reactor and eventually dismantle its atomic weapons program, just four months after the communist state shocked the world by testing a nuclear bomb.

The deal marks the first concrete plan for disarmament in more than three years of six-nation negotiations, and could potentially herald a new era of cooperation in the region with the North's longtime foes _ the United States and Japan _ also agreeing to discuss normalizing relations with Pyongyang.

Under the deal, the North will receive initial aid equal to 50,000 tons heavy fuel oil within 60 days for shutting down and sealing its main nuclear reactor and related facilities at Yongbyon, north of the capital, to be confirmed by international inspectors.

For irreversibly disabling the reactor and declaring all nuclear programs, the North will eventually receive another 950,000 tons in aid.
I honestly don't know how the final agreement compares to what each side wanted in the negotiations, but it sounds like a pretty good deal to me. I don't know that the aid for N. Korea is equivalent to energy they could produce with nuclear energy, but I don't really think nuclear energy was their main goal anyway. If relations can be normalized between N. Korea and the rest of the world, however, that could ultimately equate to much better windfall than the aid upfront.

North Korea and United States also will embark on talks aimed at resolving disputes and restarting diplomatic relations, Wu said. The Korean peninsula has technically remained in a state of war for more than a half-century since the Korean War ended in a 1953 cease-fire.

The United States will begin the process of removing North Korea from its designation as a terror-sponsoring state and also on ending U.S. trade sanctions, but no deadlines was set, according to the agreement.
If the Korean conflict can finally be completely put to bed, that would be good too. Maybe (but I'm not holding my breathe) the US could actually join the agreement on removing land mines, since we would no longer have to maintain the mines along the border between North and South Korea.

To some degree I agree with John Bolton here, although I don't agree that Bush should reject the offer:
"I am very disturbed by this deal," Bolton told CNN. "It sends exactly the wrong signal to would-be proliferators around the world: 'If we hold out long enough, wear down the State Department negotiators, eventually you get rewarded,' in this case with massive shipments of heavy fuel oil for doing only partially what needs to be done."
I think that it does, to some degree, send that message, but there is really no other choice. We knew that Iraq didn't have nuclear capabilities so we took over their country in an attempt to keep them from attaining them. That hasn't worked out so well for us, now has it. Once N. Korea exhibited its nuclear power (or at least claimed that's what it was), we were much more willing to talk.

When you are only willing to talk with those who wield power, you encourage other states to seek power if they want to talk. If you attack those who don't have power, you encourage those who don't have power to seek power if they don't want to be attacked. To me the solution is not what Bolton suggests, but talking instead of bullying. Just because we have raw power doesn't necessarily mean we can use it effectively to achieve our goals.

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