Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Strange Diplomacy

Originally posted 13 February 2007:

So a big story in the international news this week has been the six nation deal reached between North Korea, USA, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia for the North to disarm their nuclear & atomic weapons research and development program. Laced with heavy energy-packed, incentive-based compensations for North Korea, and although it doesn't involved dismantling any of the nuclear weapons Pyongyang already has developed - the deal is being promoted as a multilateral diplomatic success and an important step in diffusing hostilities in the region.

And it should be. But while I'm not one to normally criticize an agreement designed to reduce the profileration of these weapons of mass destruction, one of the US concessions struck me as somewhat odd. In part of the agreement that involves the USA and North Korea working towards normalizing their diplomatic relations with each other, the USA has agreed to take steps to remove North Korea from its list of terror-sponsoring states. Now it's not hard to see how this must be a necessary part of improving diplomatic ties between the two countries, but removing North Korea from the list of terror-sponsoring states for this reason has nothing to do with them actually not sponsoring terrorist activities!! Please anyone correct me if my logic is off here - but in a post-911 world where the USA of all countries appears fanatically obsessed with terror related issues, it seems quite strange to me that this would be a concession that they would agree to.

Anyways, the agreement is still conditional for another 60 days while the UN's weapon inspectors do their thing & the teeth of this deal and committment of participants really show itself ... after then we'll get a clearer picture of how things will unfold. Moving on to how this might affect things in other parts of the world - regardless of the specific details of the agreement, however, the Bush Administration has shown the world that they are capable of engaging in diplomatic pressure to stop a nuclear R&D program in a country named as one of their adversaries. If North Korea holds up their end of the bargain for the foreseeable future and this deal proves to actually be successfull in its objectives, I wonder how much pressure President Bush & Co will increasingly be under to shift their seemingly hostile policy toward Iran's declared nuclear energy program to a more moderate and engaging one.

--This photo of delegates to the six nation talks was taken by Michael Reynolds & Andrew Wong for the International Herald Tribune.

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