A Moment of Gloom

This evening’s _Nelson Report_ has much discussion of today’s North Korea developments.

N.KOREA…you remember the song, “Oh, what a difference a day makes, 24 little hours…”

The N. Korean government today took steps which, taken literally, may be irrevocable…announcing, twice, it would “never” return to the 6 Party Talks.

That was followed with the official expulsion of IAEA inspectors from the Yongbyon nuclear complex.

“And furthermore” steps included repeating recent threats to fully re-start the Yongbyon fissile material production process…something the Bush folks hoped had been “disabled”, perhaps to the point of “dismantlement”.

Bear in mind the DPRK last month kicked out all international NGO’s, a move it presumably could more or less afford, most of the food needed for getting to the spring harvest having already been delivered.

And in a step not publicized, the N. Korean UN reps privately told US groups planing private trips North that everything’s on hold until further notice.

Add it all up and you can see a self-imposed isolation by the NK leadership.

And whatever ALL of this may reflect in terms of the “succession question”…one can speculate that Kim and his advisors assume the US reaction will be what it has been since the Bush Administration concluded IT’S “freeze option” was a dismal failure.

That is, the US will try to come up with sufficient “inducements”…a word which the Obama folks would like to ban from the lexicon…to bring Pyongyang back to the table.

As you will read, below, serious, pro-engagement adult supervisors like Amb. Jack Pritchard warn that now is NOT the time to jump at that option.

Which brings us back to “never”…

Obviously, NO ONE today has any kind of solid intel, much less solid analysis on the real situation in Pyongyang, and what the leadership there now intends.

But we have to tell you that just about ALL our Korea policy e-mail salon has concluded, collectively and separately, that today’s “never” may have fundamentally altered the equation, and that from today, it’s a new game, with rules we now must work with China, Japan and South Korea to figure out.

That’s just a sample. If you want more, you gotta subscribe.

5 thoughts on “A Moment of Gloom

  1. Andy

    I hope no one was surprised at this turn of events. The Norks made it pretty clear what they would do if anyone said anything bad about their missile test. I tend to think, for now at least, that this was intentional on North Korea’s part. They never did much like the six-party talks.

  2. Josh


    It turns out that Mitchell Reiss came somewhat close to predicting events:

    So what to do? I would advocate a policy of what might be termed “malign neglect.” The starting assumption is that the North Koreans will now play hard to get, using their reluctance to return to the Six Party Talks as leverage for an easing of sanctions, provision of additional food aid, a resumption of energy assistance, or other benefits. And no doubt the Obama team will try to appease the North’s desires and ease them back to the negotiating table.

    They’re playing hard to get, all right.


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