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PORTSIDE  November 2010, Week 4

PORTSIDE November 2010, Week 4

Subject:

North Korea's Consistent Message to the U.S.

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Thu, 25 Nov 2010 11:25:15 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (140 lines)

North Korea's Consistent Message to the U.S.

By Jimmy Carter 
Washington Post 
November 24, 2010

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/23/AR2010112305808.html

No one can completely understand the motivations of the
North Koreans, but it is entirely possible that their
recent revelation of their uranium enrichment
centrifuges and Pyongyang's shelling of a South Korean
island Tuesday are designed to remind the world that
they deserve respect in negotiations that will shape
their future. Ultimately, the choice for the United
States may be between diplomatic niceties and avoiding
a catastrophic confrontation.

Dealing effectively with North Korea has long
challenged the United States. We know that the state
religion of this secretive society is "juche," which
means self-reliance and avoidance of domination by
others. The North's technological capabilities under
conditions of severe sanctions and national poverty are
surprising. Efforts to display its military capability
through the shelling of Yeongpyeong and weapons tests
provoke anger and a desire for retaliation. Meanwhile,
our close diplomatic and military ties with South Korea
make us compliant with its leaders' policies.

The North has threatened armed conflict before. Nearly
eight years ago, I wrote on this page about how in June
1994 President Kim Il Sung expelled International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors and proclaimed
that spent fuel rods could be reprocessed into
plutonium. Kim threatened to destroy Seoul if
increasingly severe sanctions were imposed on his
nation.

Desiring to resolve the crisis through direct talks
with the United States, Kim invited me to Pyongyang to
discuss the outstanding issues. With approval from
President Bill Clinton, I went, and reported the
positive results of these one-on-one discussions to the
White House. Direct negotiations ensued in Geneva
between a U.S. special envoy and a North Korean
delegation, resulting in an "agreed framework" that
stopped North Korea's fuel-cell reprocessing and
restored IAEA inspection for eight years.

With evidence that Pyongyang was acquiring enriched
uranium in violation of the agreed framework, President
George W. Bush - who had already declared North Korea
part of an "axis of evil" and a potential target - made
discussions with North Korea contingent on its complete
rejection of a nuclear explosives program and
terminated monthly shipments of fuel oil. Subsequently,
North Korea expelled nuclear inspectors and resumed
reprocessing its fuel rods. It has acquired enough
plutonium for perhaps seven nuclear weapons.

Sporadic negotiations over the next few years among
North Korea, the United States, South Korea, Japan,
China and Russia (the six parties) produced, in
September 2005, an agreement that reaffirmed the basic
premises of the 1994 accord. Its text included
denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a pledge of
non-aggression by the United States and steps to evolve
a permanent peace agreement to replace the U.S.-North
Korean-Chinese cease-fire that has been in effect since
July 1953. Unfortunately, no substantive progress has
been made since 2005, and the overall situation has
been clouded by North Korea's development and testing
of nuclear devices and medium- and long-range missiles,
and military encounters with South Korea.

North Korea insists on direct talks with the United
States. Leaders in Pyongyang consider South Korea's
armed forces to be controlled from Washington and
maintain that South Korea was not party to the 1953
cease-fire. Since the Clinton administration, our
country has negotiated through the six-party approach,
largely avoiding substantive bilateral discussions,
which would have excluded South Korea.

This past July I was invited to return to Pyongyang to
secure the release of an American, Aijalon Gomes, with
the proviso that my visit would last long enough for
substantive talks with top North Korean officials. They
spelled out in detail their desire to develop a
denuclearized Korean Peninsula and a permanent cease-
fire, based on the 1994 agreements and the terms
adopted by the six powers in September 2005. With no
authority to mediate any disputes, I relayed this
message to the State Department and White House.
Chinese leaders indicated support of this bilateral
discussion.

North Korean officials have given the same message to
other recent American visitors and have permitted
access by nuclear experts to an advanced facility for
purifying uranium. The same officials had made it clear
to me that this array of centrifuges would be "on the
table" for discussions with the United States, although
uranium purification - a very slow process - was not
covered in the 1994 agreements.

Pyongyang has sent a consistent message that during
direct talks with the United States, it is ready to
conclude an agreement to end its nuclear programs, put
them all under IAEA inspection and conclude a permanent
peace treaty to replace the "temporary" cease-fire of
1953. We should consider responding to this offer. The
unfortunate alternative is for North Koreans to take
whatever actions they consider necessary to defend
themselves from what they claim to fear most: a
military attack supported by the United States, along
with efforts to change the political regime.

[The writer was the 39th president of the United
States.

___________________________________________

Portside aims to provide material of interest to people
on the left that will help them to interpret the world
and to change it.

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