[BOOK REVIEW]Walking the minefield of nuclear diplomacy

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[BOOK REVIEW]Walking the minefield of nuclear diplomacy

There is no way that this book can be called a light read, so if you are not interested in the minutiae of negotiations with North Korea, read no further. Written by players in the 1994 Geneva Agreed Framework, “Going Critical” is a step by step account of how a possible second Korean War was avoided.
The three authors; Robert L. Galucci, a former assistant secretary of state and head of the United States negotiating team; Daniel Poneman, who coordintaed the Agreed Framework; and Joel S. Witt, the special assistant for non-proliferation to President Clinton, detail tense meetings in places as varied as Geneva, Vienna, New York and even Kuala Lumpur in which the agreement was hammered out between the United States and North Korea.
From off the record meetings between Galucci and Pyongyang’s point man, First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Sok-ju, readers start to perceive that on a one-on-one basis an agreement was easily possible, but that domestic concerns of all the protagonists involved precluded such a “non-diplomatic” solution.
Revealing also is the International Atomic Energy Agency’s part in the affair and how politicking in Vienna forced Hans Blix to insist on more intensive ad hoc inspections in the North, which seems to have hastened the then crisis.
From individual blustering by then commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet Admiral Ron Zlatapor in a section aptly titled, “If we wanted to go to war with you, we wouldn’t need any preparations,” to interventions by former President Carter and the assured diplomacy of former South Korean Foreign Minister Han Sung-soo, which would later cost him his job ― President Kim Young-sam it appears was something of a hawk and would have been just as happy if the deal had failed ― the book is a “how to” read for walking the minefield that constitutes relations and dealings with North Korea. I hope President Bush reads it.

Going Critical
The First North Korean
Nuclear Crisis
Joel Wit, Daniel Poneman and Robert Galluci
Brookings Institution Press
474 Pages

by Chris Price
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