North Korea threatens to renew nuclear program
Washington wants to verify that disarmament is underway, but Pyongyang says that further inspections would undermine its sovereignty.
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The Washington Post reports that the six-party talks have been plagued with problems and criticisms from the start, raising the possibility that the latest flare-up may just be par for the course.Skip to next paragraph
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That deal, though, has had a number of major hiccups, including a six-month delay in the North's release of the report on its nuclear program. US negotiators, despite criticism from some conservatives in Washington, found ways to keep it from collapsing.
The negotiators did not require the North to make a detailed public accounting of its suspected uranium-enrichment program or suspected sales of nuclear technology to foreign countries, including Syria. Nor did the United States require the North to specify how many nuclear weapons it has made.
Others say that the announcement may just be an attempt by North Korea to gain more leverage at the bargaining table. It is also a way for Pyongyang to register its unhappiness with recent joint military exercises by Washington and Seoul, according to Koh Yu-Hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at South Korea's Dongguk University, reports Reuters.
"This sudden move was not entirely unexpectable, as the US has irked North Korea by delaying the removal of North Korea from the list of terrorism-sponsoring states and South Korea and the US did the joint military drill, which was seen as a threat to the North. Those steps angered North Korea and it seems to have come to think that they still need nuclear weapons.
"I do not believe that North Korea whole-heartedly said they will go back to the starting point in terms of denuclearization process. I see it as another card at the negotiation table to urge the US to remove it from the terrorism blacklist as soon as possible."
Still, it remains to be seen whether this latest problem is just another bump in the diplomatic process or a setback that more seriously damages relations.
The upcoming US presidential election may play a role in this as well, reports the BBC, saying, "with only months to go until a new team takes office in Washington, Pyongyang may be looking to the next administration for a better deal."