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Saturday, September 27, 2008

North Korean nuclear game....

Here is a piece from Council on Foreign Relations newsletter published on September 24 that I thought everyone may be interested in. I especially liked the interactive CFR.org Crisis Guide on the history of conflict on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea expelled international inspectors (Telegraph) from its main nuclear facility and stripped the facility of the seals and security cameras that prevented Pyongyang from reactivating the plant. The Yongbyon site was shut down in February 2007 as Pyongyang agreed to cease its nuclear activity in exchange for foreign aid and diplomatic incentives. Now the regime says it will move ahead with plans to activate the facility (BBC), and will return nuclear materials to the site next week.The setback on denuclearization comes amid continued speculation over the health of North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-Il, who was reported to have had a stroke by South Korean and U.S. intelligence officials. More recent intelligence reports from Seoul have indicated slight improvements (Canadian Press) in Kim's health following surgery, but analysis of what might happen in a post-Kim North Korea has only intensified. NPR writes that no firm succession plan appears to be in place, and that there is no evidence that one of Kim's three sons, or a different official, is being groomed for the post. The Atlantic says any of Kim's possible successors will likely share much of the leader's reclusive world-view, so talks of regime change are highly premature.This CFR.org Crisis Guide looks at the history of conflict on the Korean peninsula.

A CFR.org Crisis Guide looks at the history of conflict on the Korean peninsula.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

North Korea up to its old bag of tricks...milking that nuclear cash cow

Here we go again.....the latest from North Korea is that it has booted out all the IAEA monitors from its Yongbyon nuclear facility....hey, didn't they do this before? All of this shouldn't really come as a surprise to the North Korea watchers. After all, did we really think that North Korea was just going to give up its nuclear ambitions that easily? The nuke is the only real bargaining chips North Korea has against the international community, not to mention that it is an invaluable propaganda tool for its own domestic consumption. So, it is really unlikely that it is going to just give it all up for the sake of regional security and world peace.

Would this have still happened if the US delisted North Korea from the terrorism list? I don't know, but I have a feeling North Korea would have thought of something to keep the facility going, or at least delay the process as long as possible even with the delisting.

A few things are clear - it would have taken years just to sort out and resolve the issues that have been brought forth through the Six-Party process so far, but now it is going to take much longer and will take some very hard work to get the process going again.

If nothing else, I have to hand it to North Korea for keeping things interesting.