North Korean leader Kim Jong Il expressed regret about his country's nuclear test to a Chinese delegation and said Pyongyang would return to international nuclear talks if Washington backs off a campaign to financially isolate the country, a South Korean newspaper reported Friday.
"If the U.S. makes a concession to some degree, we will also make a concession to some degree, whether it be bilateral talks or six-party talks," Kim was quoted as telling a Chinese envoy, the mass- circulation Chosun Ilbo reported, citing a diplomatic source in China.
Kim told the Chinese delegation that "he is sorry about the nuclear test," the newspaper reported.
In the meantime he's also threatening another test. So yeah, I take all of this with a grain of salt. I'd love to believe the rhetoric, but you know, given recent history and the NoKo propensity to ignore their side of any agreement it is difficult.
Han S. Park is director of the Center for the Study of Global Issues at the University of Georgia and a frequent visitor to North Korea (also author of the book ""North Korea: the Politics of Unconventional Wisdom.")
Park says it would be nice if we actually understood what Kim and North Korea were all about. He extends these "realities" to help us buy a clue:
REALITY: North Korea is characterized by "pathological nationalism." Kim's leadership has been forged and maintained by nationalist ideology, not by its ability to satisfy people's needs. It is nationalism that legitimizes the system and helps the North claim superiority over the South. The fact that Pyongyang has stood up against the sole superpower on earth is an enormous source of national pride among the leadership and the people. Pyongyang will resist any pressure that undermines this pride.
REALITY: North Korean policy is determined by ultra-militarism. Under the banner of Military First Politics, Kim Jong-il established a system of government centered on the military that commands absolute authority. Kim himself is the head of the military and the entire state apparatus is subsumed under it. As such, it was the decision of the military, and not the civilians, to test the missiles and the bomb with the belief that nuclear armament is the only viable deterrent against any external aggression. The military believes that the Bush administration has not been able to invade North Korea because of the fear of retaliation, and that South Koreans, in particular, should be thankful to the North for deterring conflict on the peninsula.
REALITY: The North Korean political culture is undyingly paternalistic. The military and its supreme commander, Kim Jong-il, are considered the protector and provider for its people, who passively accept their proper position as dutiful "children." The state is viewed as an extension of the family, and the parents are unquestionably trusted. Even if the state makes mistakes, the people remain tolerant. The notion of republicanism or a contractual relationship between the government and the people is alien to North Korea. In this context, mass unrest that threatens the government is highly unlikely.
A pathological and paternalistic nationalism driven by ultra-militarism in which nothing is the fault of the state and everything is the fault of the US. Oh, and the people believe that.
If you'd like a video example of what Park is talking about, check this out:
So, given that, why would that little slice of heaven on earth be open to negotiations to give up their nukes? How does Big Brother change his whole ideological focus to be accommodating to negotiations with his enemies in "Eurasia" when it is "Eurasia" upon which he has built his entire excuse/reason for maintaining the type of state he does? Catch-22 (wow, old book references everywhere).
Given the above, it is clear that sanctions, resolutions and condemnations will continue to be ineffective. It is also clear that the U.S. effort to muster a unified voice against Pyongyang will continue to be futile.
It is time to conduct serious bilateral talks among Pyongyang and each of the parties involved. While the Bush administration may need a face-saving rationale for resuming bilateral negotiations with Pyongyang, it must not avoid direct talks any longer.
Can anyone guess what, by "serious bilateral talks", Park means?
I'd guess the usual ... a whole bunch of carrots and no sticks. The "Carter Doctrine" redux. Yeah, that worked, didn't it?
Park is basically telling us that the price of bribing North Korea has just gone up, and we’d better hurry up and get our bids in. Otherwise, their next ploy might be something along the lines of "Nice City of Los Angeles you got there. Be a shame if anything happened to it."
I’ve never heard a proponent of bilateral talks explain why that approach would result in NK abandoning its nuclear program. Mr. Kim explains that the intense nationalism of the people of NK will preclude any possible overthrow of the government. If that is so, why have there been so many refugees fleeing to China in the last 10-15 years? Could it have something to do with famine?
I am sure that Mr. Park is generally right about the attitudes of the NK people and the political situation, but I question his prescribed solution. It seems to me that China has all the power in this mess. The NK government is dependent on China for food and energy. Without China’s support it won’t matter that the NK people have strong nationalist pride. They will be dead soon. The NK’s said they were sorry after China read them the riot act.
I think the only solution is to play the Japan card with China. Tell China that we will support the nuclearization of Japan unless it shuts NK down.
North Korea is not China’s puppet, any more so than say Israel is a US puppet. Yes, the hold a helluva lot of leverage, but at the end of the day the NoKos can do things that displease China (like testing a bomb.)
I don’t think any amount of talks will work, unless the regime is literally down to its final days.