June 8th, 2009
10:22 AM ET

Reining in Pyongyang

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/05/us.northkorea/art.bosworth.gi.jpg caption="State Department representative Stephen Bosworth is traveling to Asia to discuss North Korea policy."]

Henry A. Kissinger
The Washington Post

The Obama administration entered office determined to give negotiations with North Korea every opportunity. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hinted that she was seriously considering a visit to Pyongyang. Stephen Bosworth, a distinguished scholar and moderate diplomat, was appointed principal negotiator

These overtures were vituperatively rejected. Pyongyang refuses to return to the negotiating table and has revoked all its previous concessions. It has restarted the nuclear reprocessing plant it had mothballed and has conducted nuclear weapons and missile tests. It has said the Korean Armistice Agreement of 1953 no longer applies.

The explanation for this may lie in a domestic struggle for succession to the clearly ailing "Dear Leader," Kim Jong Il. North Korea's leaders also seem to have recognized that no matter how conciliatory U.S. diplomacy, its goal of the abandonment of North Korea's nuclear weapons capability cannot be accepted. They apparently have concluded that no degree of political recognition could compensate them for abandoning the signal (and probably sole) achievement of their rule, for which they have obliged their population to accept unprecedented oppression. They may well calculate that weathering a period of international protest is their ticket to emerging as a de facto nuclear power.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Henry A. Kissinger • North Korea
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Michael C. McHugh

    I think the US should just put the idea on the table that we favor reunification of Korea, because this division has gone on too long. Let's propose talks on reunification, within a framework of security and economic development for Northeast Asia. See how North Korea would react to that one, instead of them always forcing us to react.

    June 8, 2009 at 12:01 pm |
  2. Isabel, Brazil

    And now Laura Ling and Lee Euna now are used as a bargaining piece by North Korea. We expect the US government can do something. As we, ordinary people and media, can exert pressure to help them.

    June 8, 2009 at 11:25 am |