North Korea nuclear moratorium: Will it last?
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the US “still has profound concerns” about the North Korea nuclear moratorium, even as it considers the agreement “a step in the right direction.”
(Page 2 of 2)
And even as positive as a return to talks would be – to start with, it would suggest a reduction in North Korea-South Korea tensions from a level that in 2010 threatened an outbreak of war – many analysts say just talks for talks’ sake won’t be enough.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Noting that with North Korea “the devil is always in the details,” the Heritage Foundation’s North Asia expert Bruce Klingner says that “resumption of six-party talks would not be a victory in itself but instead simply the beginning of long, arduous negotiations – the diplomatic equivalent of putting two weary boxers back in the ring in round two of a 15-round bout.”
Mr. Klingner calls Pyongyang’s agreement to a verifiable enrichment moratorium “a major reversal by the regime” and especially surprising in that it comes just two months after the death of leader Kim Jong-il and his replacement by his youngest son, Kim Jong-un.
But some experts say Kim Jong-un may be following through on momentum for improved Washington-Pyongyang relations that kicked modestly into gear in the last moths of his father’s life.
Noting that low-level talks held last summer and fall, while Kim Jong-il was still in power, “built a momentum that carried forward,” Notre Dame University international relations specialist George Lopez says the steps announced Wednesday suggest “we have turned a new page with the North Koreans.”
Professor Lopez, an expert on the North Korean regime and a former UN adviser, says the US steps reaffirming the Korean war armistice and declaring it has no hostile intentions towards the North could be crucial in negotiating a full denuclearization by the North.
Ending the North’s nuclear program is the aim of the six-party talks, even though the North has repeatedly declared it would never give up its nuclear weapons.
On the other hand, Lopez says the absence from Wednesday’s announcement of any signs of reconciliation between Pyongyang and Seoul – South Korea is still looking for some form of apology from the North for the hostilities of 2009 and 2010 that killed South Korean military personnel and some civilians – means the US still has work to do to fully reengage the South in upcoming negotiations.