April 13, 2003

North Korea Watch The NYT

North Korea Watch

The NYT appears a bit schizoid regarding NoKo today. There is an ominous tone in this story from Dave Sanger:

"The North Koreans have been eerily quiet for the past three weeks. "Kim Jong Il has gone underground for months, and no one is sure why," said one senior official. Yet satellite photographs continue to show steady progress at his one known nuclear site."

Then James Brooke's reports, rather contra to the tone in Sanger's piece, that Pyongyang has just made a highly significant diplomatic concession:

"In a policy shift, North Korea said today that it would negotiate its nuclear program without sticking "to any particular dialogue format" if the United States changed its stance on the issue." In other words, they are finally dropping their demand for one-on-one talks in a direct bilateral forum with the U.S.--a non-starter for most policymakers in Washington.

There is also this intriguing quote from the South Korean President:

"North Korea is "petrified" by the rapid American victory in Iraq, Mr. Roh said Friday in an interview with The Washington Post."

Remember how conflict in Iraq was going to inexorably lead NoKo to take provocative actions to goad us into miscalculations while we were occupied in Iraq? Quite the opposite, at least at this juncture. A show of strength by the U.S. in Iraq (and perhaps some long overdue concerted diplomatic pressure from regional players on Pyongyang) has led to, at least for now, more conciliatory noises emanating from Kim Jong Il.

Posted by Gregory at April 13, 2003 10:43 PM
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