Sunday, August 28, 2005

U.S. says NK's peaceful nukes "not a major stumbling block"

Some people have pointed to future presidential hopeful and current Unification Minister Chung Dong-young as a Pyongyang proxy for having undermined Washington-Seoul-Tokyo solidarity at the six-way talks in Beijing when he said that North Korea should be allowed to have some nuclear capabilities as long as they were under close supervision.

But last week came news that the United States may be willing to accept such a compromise. U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill suggested to reporters that the United States could be flexible on what was "not a major stumbling block." He went on to say: "I think we can come up with something. But I cannot be more specific than that because we are in the middle of a negotiation."

Reuters says that Hill's softer line could anger hawkish officials in the Bush administration who have been skeptical of reaching a deal with North Korea and do not want to give the communist nation any chance of breaking an accord and making weapons, and I have to say I agree. My hours of listening to Rush Limbaugh rail against Clinton for the 1994 agreement have taught me that. But other than attacking North Korea militarily, they offer few other useful solutions.

In the end, the Bush administration will probably end up doing what the Clinton administration did in the bad situation that it inherited in the 1990s: make a deal that can keep as tight a lid as possible and hope that the North collapses or changes soon enough that it won't become a problem.

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