Thursday, September 09, 2004
A SILVER LINING IN THE ROK URANIUM CLOUD?
Cheong Wook Sik sees one.
Accordingly, in order to solve this problem, one needs to find a "clever plan" that would allow both the U.S. and North Korea to save face while minimizing suspicions over North Korea's uranium enrichment activities. This "clever plan" could begin with North Korea arguing -- much along the same lines as South Korea did with its uranium enrichment experiment -- that it attempted to enrich uranium as part of research and development (R&D).This solution sounds positively Clintonian (but then again, diplomatic lies are sometimes better than the harsh cold truth of going to war). It also is somewhat analogous to Bruce Cumings' explanation for the DPRK's HEU program: "it isn't a weapons program, it is an energy program. In the end, though, I think there actually is some merit to this suggestion. Since the ROK revelations about its own nuclear programs (Seoul just fessed up to a 20-year old plutonium experiment as well) it becomes harder to criticize North Korea's nuclear activities as a stark black and white issue. But if one emphasizes the ROK's full disclosure and cooperation as an example to P'yongyang, and if all six parties could agree on the face-saving R+D facade, the result might be an agreement that everyone could live with. Here's hoping.
If North Korea approaches suspicions surrounding uranium enrichment in the context of R&D, ground would appear for it to claim that since it attempted to acquire uranium enrichment technology as part of its "peaceful nuclear activities," those attempts had nothing to do with the manufacture of nuclear weapons. On the other hand, from the U.S. position, Washington could claim that since North Korea did attempt to possess uranium enrichment technology, U.S. assertions were not incorrect.