Friday, October 10, 2008

US may remove North Korea from terror list

The Associated Press is reporting that the Bush Administration may decide as early as Friday to remove North Korea from a terrorism blacklist in an effort to "salvage faltering nuclear disarmament talks.
"U.S. officials said today that no final decision had been made but diplomats briefed on the matter told the AP that they believe an announcement that North Korea will be tentatively taken off the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism is imminent.

The delisting depends on North Korea agreeing to a plan to verify an account of its nuclear activity that it submitted over the summer, the diplomats said. North Korea would be put back on the list if it doesn't comply with the plan and abandon nuclear arms, they said.

The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of an expected announcement, which would follow meetings last week in Pyongyang between North Korean officials and U.S. envoy Christopher Hill as well as days of intense debate in Washington.
The North Korea talks may be one of the Bush Administration's last chances at having a positive legacy, so this seems likely.

UPDATE (Saturday, October 11, 2008):
Yes, the Bush administration did indeed take North Korea off the terrorism list. There was some quid pro quo involved: The removal came after Pyongyang agreed to allow inspectors access to declared nuclear sites. As the LAT reports, conservatives are criticizing the deal because "the agreement left unresolved what happens if inspectors seek access to suspicious sites that the regime has not declared." Republican presidential nominee John McCain said he needed more persuasion that the deal was a good one.

This is a huge move for North Korea, because it allows North Korea access to various money and means that can help its economy. If you're a believer in engagement as a way to get North Korea to change, this is a good thing. If you're convinced that giving North Korea access to more money just prolongs a cruel regime, then this is something you won't be happy about. 

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