The announcement that the United States, North Korea and China will hold talks next week in Beijing over North Korea's nuclear program is a welcome development and an apparent victory for the Bush administration's decision to oppose direct, one-on-one talks with Pyongyang.
While the world's attention is riveted on Iraq, the United States cannot afford to ignore the brewing crisis in Korea. The Bush administration's approach to North Korea is quickly moving from the inexplicable to the irresponsible. If it continues on the current course, America could soon find itself confronted with the unpalatable choice between a nuclear-armed North Korea and war.
While it is not certain that North Korea would negotiate away their nuclear programs and fully abide by any agreement, such a resolution was and remains a possibility. By refusing to aggressively pursue a negotiated approach, the Bush administration has essentially green-lighted North Korea's nuclear program and may be encouraging the North to take even more drastic steps in the future.
Beijing provides critical energy and food aid to Pyongyang. Indeed, without Beijing's economic support, conditions in North Korea are likely to deteriorate dramatically. Logically, China ought to be the country the US should court actively to increase the diplomatic pressure on North Korea and reduce the tensions over Pyongyang's dangerous nuclear programmes.
Moves by North Korea to restart its nuclear reactor program and by Iran to build advanced nuclear facilities to produce weapons-grade materials, threaten to blow the lid off long-standing nonproliferation efforts. The developments show that the approach being pursued by the current administration for preventing the spread of nuclear arms has failed and needs immediate adjustment.
The MTCR is based on a policy, not a treaty. It focuses on ballistic and cruise missiles capable of delivering a 500 kilogram payload to a range of 300 kilometers. Any rockets or unmanned air vehicles with this capability, including space launch vehicles (SLV's), which are "peaceful" versions of long-range missiles, are subject to a strong presumption of export denial.
U.S.-South Korean relations will be put to the test this week as South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung visits Washington. Kim’s recent summit with Russian President Putin produced a joint statement effectively opposing U.S. plans to deploy national missile defenses, complicating President Bush’s first foray into East Asian security affairs.
On Friday, November 3, the U.S. and North Korea concluded three days of talks in Kuala Lumpur focused on Pyongyang's missile programs without signing any agreements. U.S. lead negotiator Robert Einhorn characterized the discussions as "detailed, constructive and very substantive," but also emphasized that "significant issues remain to be explored."
Across Asia leaders differ in their assessments and prescriptions for macroeconomic and structural policy management. There are debates about the optimal mix of macroeconomic policies during shock-induced downturns, the mix of public works spending versus spending on the social safety net and the effectiveness of these programs, given corruption. The CERN meeting will address these topics.
For many years South Korea served as a showcase for the not-ready-for-prime-time model of economic development. Reading Cumings's and Oberdorfer's accounts, one is hard-pressed to find evidence that things unfolded in the smooth, organic evolution suggested by the popular models of development. Therein lie clues to explain the collapse of the Asian model.