Tuesday, September 28, 2004


Ralph Cossa says "yes!"

He means this in two ways: first, Seoul should promise to come completely clean on its illicit nuclear activites and allow full inspections thus making it harder for P'yongyang to continue resisting:
Seoul has been disappointingly quiet in the face of the North's allegations - as it regrettably normally is - merely dismissing the charges and calling on the North to resume negotiations. A more appropriate approach would be to challenge Pyongyang to follow Seoul's example and invite the IAEA to investigate both sides' alleged transgressions, perhaps with representatives from both North and South accompanying each inspection effort.
Seoul's embarrassing revelations can provide a way out of the crisis for North Korea if it so chooses. If renegade scientists can be blamed for Seoul's transgressions, certainly they can be discovered (or manufactured) in the North. Diplomatic niceties (and a desire by all sides to move forward) would result in acceptance of almost any North Korean excuse if the end result was full disclosure by Pyongyang of its uranium- and plutonium-based programs.

Second, the ROK should take the lead in calling for the next round of six-party talks and promise to hold them regardless of whether the DPRK shows up or not:
President Roh should seize the initiative. He should ask Beijing to arrange another round of six-party talks for early October to allow Seoul to explain fully to the other participants the nature and extent of its past nuclear programs and the steps it is taking, including full cooperation with the IAEA, in order to ensure that they are verifiably ended. Beijing should then set a date for this meeting and invite all the other parties to participate, making it clear that the meeting will proceed as scheduled, even if not all participants choose to attend. This would put the pressure on Pyongyang to attend, rather than putting the pressure on Beijing to bribe it into to make another appearance.
This is similar to the "silver lining" proposal I mentioned earlier, complete with the nod-to-realpolitik "manufacture" of renegade scientists as a face-saving way for the DPRK to back down. Of course one can wonder what would happen if the ROK and the other members of the six-party talks call the DPRK's bluff and finds out that the DPRK isn't bluffing. What then? Still probably worth a try though.

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