Wednesday, May 17, 2006

To the shores of Tripoli

On Monday, the United States and longtime adversary Libya restore full diplomatic ties, as a reward for Tripoli scrapping its weapons of mass destruction programs

This development has been building since the Clinton Administration, and the Bush-43 Administration certainly hopes that Iran and North Korea will learn a lesson from it.

And, lo and behold, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Kimoon said the move signals incentives for Pyongyang if they do the same:
It is a good example of the brighter future that awaits when you give up the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction...We urge North Korea to understand there will be a brighter future when it gives up its nuclear programs and returns to the six-party talks at the earliest time. We also believe that relations between the United States and North Korea will improve for the better.
Nice to see someone in the Roh Administration on the same page—I think—with Washington on something like this.

Libya is hoping to get more investment in its energy sector, which it badly needs. As an interim step in improving ties, Washington lifted a broad trade embargo on Libya in 2004, and Tripoli will soon be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Of course, it's not entirely certain North Korea could go down the same path as Libya did. Pyongyang survives by fear and control, and the very things the Libya hopes to get from renewed ties could actually undermine the DPRK leadership's control were the same to be done up north.

Additionally, even if Pyongyang thought it could manage new investment while maintaining control, the benefits would likely be slow in coming. Re-esablishing diplomatic ties took over two years from the time Tripoli decided to give up its weapons program in December 2003.

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