Friday, April 19, 2013

A Familiar Pattern

Is anyone getting tired of this dance?

April 19th, 2013:

North Korea offered the United States and South Korea a list of conditions on Thursday for talks, including the lifting of U.N. sanctions, signaling a possible end to weeks of warlike hostility on the Korean peninsula.

The North Korea's top military body also said in a statement the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula would begin when the United States removed nuclear weapons that the isolated state says Washington has deployed in the region.

The move was likely a sop to the North's only major backer, China, which has signaled its growing unease over the escalation of threats, and which said later on Thursday that talks were the only correct way to end the tension.

"Dialogue and war cannot co-exist," the North's National Defence Commission said in the statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

"If the United States and the puppet South have the slightest desire to avoid the sledge-hammer blow of our army and the people ... and truly wish dialogue and negotiations, they must make the resolute decision," it said.

The United States has offered talks, but on the pre-condition that they lead to North Korea abandoning its nuclear weapons ambitions. North Korea deems its nuclear arms a "treasured sword" and has vowed never to give them up.

January 2013:

North Korea threatened to attack rival South Korea if Seoul joined a new round of tightened UN sanctions, as Washington unveiled more of its own economic restrictions following Pyongyang’s rocket launch last month.

In a third straight day of fiery rhetoric, the North directed its verbal onslaught at its neighbour on Friday, saying: “’Sanctions’ mean a war and a declaration of war against us.”

The reclusive North this week declared a boycott of all dialogue aimed at ending its nuclear programme and vowed to conduct more rocket and nuclear tests after the UN Security Council censured it for a December long-range missile launch.

January 2010:

North Korea proposed Monday signing a peace treaty this year to formally end the Korean War, a suggestion that Washington quickly dismissed.

In a move seen as an attempt to bolster its negotiating position, the isolated communist regime said a return to negotiations on its nuclear weapons program depends on better relations with Washington and the lifting of sanctions.

May 11th, 1993 - October 14th, 2006:

Following the 9/11 attacks in the US, Washington put North Korea on the "axis of evil" list and has since contended that North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons poses a serious threat to the world. Several times, the US administration proposed bringing North Korea before the UN Security Council to impose economic sanctions. However China, North Korea's main ally and trading partner, indicated that it would likely veto any sanctions on Pyongyang.

1987 - 2006:

As for marking holidays with a bang, Pyongyang’s first nuclear test came on October 9, 2006, the eve of Party Founding Day—one of the most important national holidays in North Korea. That led to the resumption of diplomatic negotiations by the George W Bush administration and, sequentially, new rounds of diplomacy, the lifting of financial sanctions, the resumption of food aid, and the removal of North Korea from the US State Dept. list of state sponsors of terrorism. This landmark event, Pyongyang’s first nuclear test, was preceded in July by a seven-rocket salute on America’s birthday, when it fired off six short-range missiles and one long-range missile on the morning of July 5, 2006 (the afternoon of July 4, Independence Day, in Washington DC). North Korea’s second nuclear test was on May 25, Memorial Day in the US. The 1983 Rangoon bombing also took place on the eve of Party Founding Day, which also happened to be a Sunday. 

As for Pyongyang’s penchant for provoking on a Sunday, its first long-range missile test took place on Sunday, Aug 31, 1998. That led to a flurry of diplomatic activity on Washington’s part and the transfer from the US to North Korea of $177 million worth of food aid through the WFP (400,000 tons) in 1999, in return for the privilege of inspecting an empty cave in Kumchangri. The North’s third long-range missile test took place on Sunday, April 5, 2009. The North also blew up a Korean Airliner on Sunday, Nov 29, 1987. 

One would think that after decades of threats, cooling down, extortion and capitulation, someone would catch on. If any involved in the six party talks were serious about resolving the ongoing crisis on the Korean peninsula, they would re-think their strategy and develop a new one. First of all, North Korea should not be engaged; China should. It is clear even to the corpulent dictator now managing North Korea that China owns it and China will keep its buffer state as long as it can. Therefore, China should face the brunt of sanctions and inquiries (like its North Korean bank accounts). No food or medical aid should be given unless inspectors have free reign in North Korea. South Korea must step up its efforts to either re-integrate North Korea or develop strategies for re-building it as a new democratic state.

(With thanks)

Do not engage North Korea. Engage China. 

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