Scholar: No alternative to stalled six-party talks

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Scholar: No alternative to stalled six-party talks

North Korea’s nuclear ambitions have nearly stalemated the United States, with no viable alternatives to the stalled six-party talks in sight, a scholar said Tuesday.

“There is an increasing pessimism about the prospect of diplomacy as a viable vehicle for denuclearization,” Scott Snyder, director of the Center for U.S.-Korea Policy at the Asia Foundation, said on the Web site of the Council on Foreign Relations. “But there’s also ... not much support for alternatives. That’s the core dilemma. Alternatives to diplomacy are hard to muster, and yet hope for diplomacy to be successful is quite limited.”

North Korea detonated its second nuclear device last year and has been boycotting the six-party talks for nearly a year to protest UN sanctions imposed after its nuclear and missile tests. Pyongyang demands the sanctions be lifted as a precondition to its return to the multilateral talks, which have been off and on since their inception in 2003. Washington insists the North come back to the nuclear dialogue first. North Korea also wants talks toward a peace treaty officially ending the 1950-53 Korean War before it returns to the talks.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other U.S. officials have promoted strategic patience, hoping that North Korea, feeling the pinch of sanctions, will eventually come back to the table.

The scholar, however, hinted at lapses in international cooperation, despite U.S. assertions of solidarity. “Since not all the neighboring parties, including the Chinese, are approaching [the sanctions] with the same priority and in the same way, it’s making [the] challenge of moving forward very difficult,” he said.

China reportedly has been discussing investment contracts worth billions of dollars with the North, and is said to be ready to acquiesce to North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons. Washington, however, has said it will not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state.

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