September 25, 2005

A Deal on North Korea?

Sam Nunn, on North Korea:

SAM NUNN: I think this a breakthrough. I think this gives the foundation for further negotiations, which can be meaningful. And it does lay out the North Koreans’ willingness to get rid of all of their nuclear weapons. At least, that’s what they say.

It also lays out the United States’ willingness to give pledges of no invasion, no toppling of the regime.

And it also lays out the premise of both parties to normalize relations.

I think there are two or three other important elements. One is the United States and North Korea did not talk for several years have been talking in the last year or so. The United States’ negotiator, Christopher Hill, had far more authority than our previous negotiator.

The second point I would make is China played a big role. And China played a very positive role here or this would not happen.

A third point I would make is that the North Koreans have probably already made a number of nuclear weapons. If this could have occurred two, three, four years ago, there would be a lot less nuclear weapons in North Korea now.

And the fourth point I would make is the details of how you calibrate the timing between the economic pledges for one side, the security pledges, and the North Koreans’ willingness not only to give up their nuclear weapons, but all importantly to provide access to inspectors to inspect all over North Korea. That’s what it’s going to take. Because all—anyone who’s familiar with Korean history realizes they dig tunnels everywhere. And they dig for the purpose of hiding things everywhere. I’ve been to North Korea only one time. But when I was there, I went out in the subway system that makes the Atlanta airport look like a foxhole. It was so deep. You go down, down, down, down.

So the verification, the timing, the sequence—all of that remains to be negotiated. But it’s a very good start and, in my view, a big step.

That's about right, though I disagree with Nunn that it would have been easy to strike this deal 2, 3, 4 years ago. It took a while for us to get the Chinese to play a really productive role on the issues at play. Also, we never kow-towed by agreeing to bilaterals outside the larger framework of the six party talks--which helped lead to conditions conducive to a more productive role emiting from Beijing. Bottom line: a hugely nascent deal, devils in the details and going forward verification, but chief American negotiator Chris Hill did a very good job indeed getting us to this stage. A good show all around, I'd say, with 'cautious optimism' the CW on what lies ahead.

More cautionary notes here.

Posted by Gregory at September 25, 2005 11:42 PM | TrackBack (10)
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