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Two U.S. Views on the Negotiations with North Korea

Posted March. 07, 2007 06:48,   


With the start of the negotiations in New York on the normalization of North Korea-U.S. relations, the first such talks in history, advice and opinions that differ are being expressed in the U.S. They are distinctively divided into two depending on the philosophy toward the “rogue regime” of the North.

Democratic figures from the Bill Clinton administration that gave birth to the 1994 Geneva Agreement are welcoming these negotiations between North Korea and the U.S. Clinton’s foreign policy team was conspicuous before and after the New York conference that lasted from March 3 to 5.

Madeleine Albright, who visited Pyongyang as Secretary of State in 2000, and a former State Department counselor met with Kim Kye Kwan, the vice foreign minister of North Korea on March 4. Charles Kartman, who was in charge of supplying a light-water reactor to North Korea during his term as secretary-general of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), also met with Vice Foreign Minister Kim twice. He has been working on an engagement policy toward North Korea even though he is a Republican.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who built channels to North Korea by visiting Pyongyang as ambassador to the UN, did not make contacts with any North Korean officials as he is buys running his election campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

Meanwhile the voices of the conservative side expressed through the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal showed strong alert signs against having “party mood” in such a serious time.

In an article on March 4, former ambassador John Bolton criticized the ambiguous acts of the U.S. against North Korea’s highly enriched uranium (HEU) program.

He also launched a direct criticism of President George W Bush who is at the vertex of neo-conservatism in America. “President Bush himself must speak, and sooner rather than later, to tell us what he thinks of the intelligence, and the direction of his own policy,” he urged.

He also wrote, “But there has been no suggestion that the intelligence (concerning HEU)…has been contradicted or discredited.” He also reputed the analysis reported by the New York Times the previous day that “U.S. officials are now admitting doubts about the North’s uranium program.”

Bolton served the first term of the Bush administration as undersecretary of state in charge of nonproliferation before becoming America’s ambassador to the UN. There, he had access to the highest level of information on the North’s HEU.

In an editorial, this newspaper wrote, “North Korea has 60 days to account for all of its nuclear programs. If it doesn`t, or if Kim attempts to renegotiate the terms at the last minute, we`d like to think the U.S. would show at least as much fortitude as the United Nations, and tell Kim to take a hike.”

What attracts attention is that the Bush administration, which accomplished the negotiation, is restricting its expression of opinion to comments made by the spokesperson of U.S. State Department. US State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack, in a regular briefing, said, “North Korea should make transparent all parts of its nuclear program…and ultimately abolish the HEU program.”

This hints at the pressure the Bush administration is feeling on the progress of the negotiations, unlike the mood right after the conclusion of the February 13 negotiations when it did not hesitate to comment that the negotiations were a job well done.

A highly reliable source of information in Washington said, “In contrast to the explicit welcoming comments it made earlier, the Bush administration is keeping an eye on the seriousness of future negotiation procedures. It is uneasy because the situation at the New York roundtable talks took place out of line with the basic steps that stipulate that a normalization of relations should follow denuclearization.”