Thursday, July 06, 2006

 

Dealing With Kim Jung-Il

Confront his Chinese enablers

North Korea's Taepodong-2 missle was apparently headed in the direction of Hawaii. Earlier in the day, Bill Gertz reported:
North Korea's motivations are not clear to U.S. intelligence and policy officials. However, the most likely explanation is that North Korea is seeking to win concessions from the United States, including a lifting of recent economic sanctions that have made it harder for the Pyongyang regime to raise hard currency through Banco Delta Asia. The Macao-based bank was found to be a main conduit for North Korean government counterfeiting and money-laundering of profits from drug trafficking.

"It is a major strategic miscalculation," said one administration official. The official said the motivations for the tests appear aimed at winning concessions from the U.S. in the six-party nuclear talks and other issues, such as U.S. defenses against illegal North Korean government activities around the world.

"They are clearly trying to grab the world's attention," said a defense official.

Officials also said the launches may have been a response to the Treasury Department's imposition of sanctions May 8 that are designed to prevent North Korea from making money from American and U.S.-based companies that purchase North Korean flag registry for commercial ships.

The sanctions overturned the Clinton administration's 1999 easing of sanctions in a bid at inducing North Korea not to conduct further missile tests, after a long-range Taepodong-1 was fired in August 1998.
Strategypage has the story of what happens to trains carrying aid from China to North Korea:
In the last few weeks, the North Koreans have just kept the trains, sending the Chinese crews back across the border. North Korea just ignores Chinese demands that the trains be returned, and insists that the trains are part of the aid program. It's no secret that North Korean railroad stock is falling apart, after decades of poor maintenance and not much new equipment. Stealing Chinese trains is a typical loony-tune North Korean solution to the problem. If the North Koreans appear to make no sense, that's because they don't. Put simply, when their unworkable economic policies don't work, the North Koreans just conjure up new, and equally unworkable, plans. The Chinese have tried to talk the North Koreans out of these pointless fantasies, and for their trouble they have their trains stolen. How do you negotiate under these conditions? No one knows. The South Koreans believe that if they just keep the North Korean leaders from doing anything too destructive (especially to South Korea), eventually the tragicomic house of cards up north will just collapse. Not much of a plan, but so far, no one's come up with anything better.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (who claims the six party talks "have stalled over unrelated financial disagreements") thinks he has plan:
We must turn North Korea away from its nuclear brinkmanship and toward providing a stable food supply and more opportunity for its people. This means direct engagement from the highest levels in Washington employing all the tools at our disposal.

We are doing this in New Mexico. North Korea desperately needs Western energy, agriculture and medical technology and, as a result of my trip there last fall, New Mexico is providing aid. Our joint humanitarian exchanges have already sent a team on North Korean heart doctors to New Mexico to learn the latest cardiac surgery techniques.

An attractive package of incentives along with strong sanctions for noncompliance would go a long way toward bringing North Korea back into the world community.

It is now time for the U.S. to step up and become a leader on the North Korean issue. We must be willing to engage in direct bilateral discussions within the context of the six-party talks with North Korea. This issue is too important to be left solely to multilateral talks.
That's a plan? Capitulate and meekly submit to blackmail? Yikes.

Mark Steyn sees things differently:
if I were interested in constructing a Machiavellian scenario, it would be to apply some serious pressure to China, because the fact of the matter is that it's China that has let a lot of this stuff go walkabout around the world in ways that have been very unhealthy. And at some point, the Chinese have to be made to pay a price for that.
That sounds about right to me.

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