Thursday, June 26, 2008

China, Iran, and the Denuclearization of North Korea

IHT: U.S. to remove North Korea from terror list

As part of a denuclearization deal, North Korea today handed over 60 pages of information on its nuclear power and nuclear weapons program. The move was an important step in the process of the dismantlement of the North’s nuclear program. In return, President Bush announced that his administration would remove the country from its list of state sponsors of terrorism and end some sanctions ‘symbolically’.

As said above, this action was only a part of a major denuclearization deal. The agreement came as a result of direct negotiations with North Korea in early 2007 under a new policy from the Bush Administration. The previous policy had limited engagement with North Korea, and stressed isolation and sanctions. However, in 2006, the President defied hawks in his administration and enacted a new policy towards the North, launching full fledged talks with North Korea: 6 party negotiations between North Korea, the host China, the U.S., Japan, South Korea, and Russia. North Korea was slow with following through on its promises, but it eventually came through with today’s declaration of plutonium capabilities, which will be verified by the United States in the coming weeks.

Information not yet disclosed

Significantly, the North's declaration is not expected to disclose details on three critical points: the nuclear bombs the North has already produced; its alleged attempts to produce nuclear arms by secretly enriching uranium, which brought on the current crisis in 2002; and accusations that the North had helped Syria build a nuclear plant.

These details need to be disclosed as the next step in the denuclearization process. The information, especially on Syria, is vital

The role of China
From everything I’ve read, China has played a big role in getting Kim Jong-Il to agree to the denuclearization process. Some analysts have gone as far as to say that North Korea would not even have agreed to disarm if weren’t for Beijing. Let’s take a look at China’s motives for a second. Why would they be interested in getting rid of a key piece of leverage they could use against the United States? It comes down to regional stability. China is experiencing rapid economic growth, and it doesn’t want anything to slow it down. As well, Beijing doesn’t want anything to ruin its ‘coming out party’ at the Olympics in August. This has been seen even this week when China allowed a Japanese naval vessel to dock at its ports for the first time since WWII.

Moral of the story: one major reason denuclearization in North Korea has been possible is because of China.

The problem with denuclearization in Iran
North Korea shows us two problems with American policy towards Iran. One, we are not negotiating with the Iranian regime. Two, we have no partner in the region that has significant leverage over Tehran. Some might say, hey, Saudi Arabia could pressure Iran. But why would Riyadh want to? Sure, the country wants to prevent any new wars in the region that might disrupt their oil shipments. But besides that, tensions in the region are only good for Saudi Arabia. U.S.-Iranian tensions have only helped send oil prices to new highs.

So, why does it matter?
Well, it doesn’t really. I just wanted to point that out. But there is one significant lesson we can take from the North Korean denuclearization: negotiations work.


Ed said...

True, the progress with North Korea is evidence of the power of negotiation. To what degree that translates to Iran, however, is questionable. In North Korea you're looking at a population that is pretty well clamped down upon in terms of its news-gathering ability. It's a much more insular state than Iran. The North Koreans don't have to worry about the nuclear issue as much, because it was saber-rattling on a world stage, not a jingoistic declaration of hyper-nationalism domestically. The Iranians seem to be pursuing nuclear power with an eye on both ends -- greater regional power and as a domestic political rallying point. As you say, negotiations with Iran are more difficult given the lack of a regional mediator. But even were the Saudis more willing to tackle the problem head-on, the Iranians have already rejected quite a few sweetener deals, most recently from the EU. So Iran, I think, is a much trickier situation. Ahmadinejad is deflecting attention on his inability to follow through on campaign promises (the economic situation there, for example) by putting the nuclear issue front and center; a much more difficult situation to deal with, in my opinion.

A Talking Ed

Hunks Portal said...

Wow! That's great news. So, one down and twenty to go?

We can never attain world peace if there is no global disarmament. This move by North Korea is one thorn removed from our aching hearts.

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salesguru said...

Well it's been 3 years and we are back to square one. Negotiations should always be first option, but then we should also agree that there are some nations/leaders who are not interested in negotiations or concessions.
just a thought?

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Joey said...

I believe that all countries experimenting with nuclear weapons should expose their research to the United Nations and all countries that are refusing to do so should be considered as a threat. Really thing about it why would these countries be experimenting with these nuclear weapons in the first place, unless there goal was to do harm. If these weapons are only being used for defensive purposes why not hand over the research to united nations.

Marta Clavero said...

Middle and high school students in Korea voted miss A’s Suzy and IU as two female celebrities who seem to be bad at math.

On August 17th, K-Stem, an institute that conducts a scholastic ability test in mathematics, announced the result of the survey asking 220 students to vote for the celebrities who seem to be good/bad
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at math.

For the category asking student to vote for celebrities who seem to be good at math, actress Kim Tae Hee ranked first with 43.4% of the votes, and Lee Seung Gi followed with 30.9% of the votes. According to the students, “Lee Seung Gi looks smart and intelligent” and “Kim Tae Hee went to Seoul National University, she is smart for real.”

On the other hand, for celebrities who seem to be bad at math, Boom ranked first with 45.15% of votes, followed by female idols Suzy and IU who received 29.1% and 22.9% of votes respectively.