New Bush tack on NorthU.S. President George W. Bush sent a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. It was the first-ever direct communication from Bush to Kim. The White House spokesman said the purpose of the letter is a request to fully disclose North Korea’s atomic activities.
The New York Times reported that the three goals for the letter include the number of nuclear missiles held by the North, the quantity of nuclear weapons and the overseas transfer of nuclear technology and material. Washington’s unprecedented choice of communication urges Kim to disclose its nuclear programs and dismantle its nuclear reactor. With that, Bush held out the prospect of normalized relations with the United States.
The recent development has significant meaning in North Korea-U.S. relations. In 2002 President Bush did not hesitate to call the North part of the axis of evil and Kim Jong-il a despot.
However, the man who refused to recognize the North Korean regime to be a legitimate government sent a letter beginning with “Dear Mr. Chairman.” The letter clearly represents a turning point in the hostile policy against the North.
Meanwhile, the letter also indicates the increasing pressure and concern directed at President Bush. Although the U.S. president has pressed North Korea since the start of his presidency, only now the president is willing to engage in communication, especially since the beginning of this year -- even at the risk of accepting some of the demands of North Korea which Washington used to refuse. There is some political calculation behind this, as Bush seeks to obtain diplomatic achievement in North Korean affairs to compensate for the disastrous war in Iraq.
However, the process of closing the nuclear facilities encountered a stumbling block at the report and declaration stage, in spite of several months of smooth operation. North Korea took a passive approach to the declaration, canceling the schedule for a first report expected to be done by the end of last month. The situation got worse as Pyongyang denied having a uranium enrichment program, and the U.S. wants the program to be included in the report.
The letter from Bush represents a determination to break through, to directly engage the man Bush once publicly called “a tyrant.”
Bush is trying to trust.
If Pyongyang nonetheless delays the time for reporting, or tries to play a game with the United States about the truth of the report, they will bear total responsibility for what will happen in the aftermath.