A Gloomy Forecast for North Korean Relations in 2008

first_img SHARE Entire border patrol unit in North Hamgyong Province placed into quarantine following “paratyphoid” outbreak News RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR News [imText1]In an article posted February 11th on the Brookings Institution website, Visiting Fellow with the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies Georgy Toloraya paints a gloomy picture of North Korean relations in 2008, emphasizing doubt and wavering resolution from Pyongyang since before Leftkowitz’s recent hard-line commentary in January and now further escalating with the rise of conservative powers in Seoul. Following a visit to Pyongyang in December 2007 the author reports that “regardless of years of negotiations and advances in the peace process…high-placed sources state vehemently that the ‘U.S. imperialist nature has not changed a bit.’” Now with hardliners speaking out in the U.S. government, their voices echoed by the media, that North Korea has failed to meet its responsibilities in accordance with the February 13th Agreement by failing to fully declare its nuclear arsenal and that a harder stance must be taken against the North, Toloraya warns that tensions are once again on the rise and will only lead to yet another dead end in negotiations with North Korea. As anticipated, North Korea’s Rodong Shinmun is cited in the article as proclaiming, ’U.S. hard-liners are attempting to step up the hostile policy towards the DPRK’ and that North Korea’s own obligations have yet to be fulfilled because other parties have not ‘adhered to the principle of simultaneous action,’ referring to the U.S.’ late shipments of fuel oil and its failure to remove North Korea from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism despite the dismantlement of the Yonbyon reactor and the provision of a “drafted” declaration of nuclear programs. Toloraya further cites the Minju Joson newspaper as stating that North Korea would only respond to the U.S. hard line with a “super hard-line policy.”Furthermore, Pyongyang has recoiled in the face of the new conservative powers that are to take office this month. “The degree of animosity in Pyongyang towards the Grand National Party (GNP or Hannara-dang) and ‘old-school’ ROK conservatives is unexpectedly strong, almost paranoid,” Toloraya writes. “North Koreans harbored a hope that the progressives in the South would fare well in the election, if not win it, and they did their best to assist the progressives by being very conciliatory to the outgoing administration of Roh Moo Hyun. But the land-slide win of the conservative party has thrown cold water on Pyongyang’s willingness to make any further concessions unless, of course, the agreements of the October 4, 2007 inter-Korean summit are implemented to the letter – which will hardly be the case.” The author points out that Lee Myung Pak’s team has already cast doubt on issues that were agreed upon at the Summit, including the Northern Limit Line, economic cooperation areas and the would-be joint fishery area. As a result, Pyongyang suspended inter-Korea talks on the implementation of the agreement in late January.The article criticizes that the changing stance from conciliatory to conservative on both the South Korean and U.S. fronts is also helping to fuel the retrogression of formerly expanding North Korean markets and the regime’s tightening controls over anti-socialist activities reminiscent of those that preceded the fall of the USSR. These include the loose interpretation or disregard of government regulations that restrict the market, the buying and selling of real estate and the like. Rather then eliminating these activities, Toloraya maintains, “The next step, should the country’s leaders admit the need for developing the country and sustaining their power, should be ‘setting the rules of the game’ by providing a legal framework for what already exists. For that, however, external security should be guaranteed to the regime—irreversibly and comprehensively.” He explains that even though these reforms would likely never be called such in North Korea and that the word “openness” would never be uttered, “the revival, in Washington and elsewhere, of pressure tactics and of isolationism in Pyongyang would endanger even these developments.”As for why North Korea has not admitted to having an advanced Uranium Enrichment Program, the author suggests that any such existing program likely has not surpassed the embryonic stages and that “the U.S. side now seems to be retreating from its initial accusations of the DPRK’s having a full-fledged HEU program,” as former Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly had insisted in 2002. In concurrence with experts like David Albright, Toloraya maintains that North Korea most likely did not use the centrifuges and technology it acquired from Pakistan for a full-fledged Uranium Enrichment Program. The author ultimately suggests that Washington’s persistent assumptions of what could have been done with the technology may lead the U.S. to follow yet another empty lead for a hefty price, alluding to the Kumchang-ri experience of the 1990s at which time the U.S. administration was said to have delivered a “plane-full of cash” to inspect a suspected underground nuclear facility at Kumchang-ri, only to come up empty-handed. AvatarDaily NKQuestions or comments about this article? Contact us at [email protected] North Korea tries to accelerate building of walls and fences along border with Chinacenter_img There are signs that North Korea is running into serious difficulties with its corn harvest News News A Gloomy Forecast for North Korean Relations in 2008 By Daily NK – 2008.02.14 6:34pm Facebook Twitterlast_img read more