&#91EDITORIALS&#93Delusional North Korea

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&#91EDITORIALS&#93Delusional North Korea

North Korea made an abrupt announcement Friday that has left the future of the three-party talks to be held in Beijing this week between China, North Korea and the United States in limbo. It said it was reprocessing thousands of spent nuclear fuel rods at its nuclear complex in Yeongbyeon. Analysts have yet to agree on what Pyeongyang’s intentions were, but it is clear that the announcement is some sort of a diversion before the Beijing talks.
Its ambiguous wording leaves analysts in other countries little to work with in estimating just exactly how far North Korea has progressed in its nuclear weapons program. The announcement leaves it uncertain whether North Korea is in the final stage of “preparing for reprocessing the spent fuel rods” or in the final stage of “reprocessing the spent fuel rods.” Either way, North Korea has lost more international credibility.
The announcement is being interpreted widely as a move to improve its negotiating position with the United States. North Korea seems to believe that such characteristic brinkmanship tactics will work on the Bush administration as well. It would do well to worry about the consequences if it misjudges. In the war with Iraq, the United States under President Bush did not waver from its pre-emptive strategy even lacking UN resolutions and in the face of opposition from France and Germany. Pyeongyang should think seriously about how the United States will respond to its announcement. One U.S. official described it as “throwing sand in our eyes.”
If North Korea is sincere about resolving the tension over its nuclear program and improving relations with the United States, it should show more accuracy and dignity in its pronouncements instead of trying to provoke other parties with transparent tactics even before the talks begin. If North Korea believes that it can deter war by building nuclear weapons, it is dangerously deluded. No regime can survive if its people are starving. The toppled statues of Saddam Hussein in Iraq should be lessons. The best policy for Pyeongyang is to abandon its nuclear program, put an end to its isolation and let other countries help it become a country that treats its people as humans.
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