Wednesday, September 21, 2005
OPINION DIVIDED ON NORTH KOREA AGREEMENT
Inside the beltway here in Washington DC? Well yes. But also in Russia:
The Russian government and media welcomed the six-party agreement about North Korea's nuclear programs announced on September 19. Izvestiya even called it a breakthrough. Deputy Foreign Minister, Alexander Alexeyev, Russia's delegate to the talks, hailed it as an historic document that would have been unimaginable six months earlier and a triumph of common sense. Alexeyev also emphasized that the first paragraph of the accord calls upon the DPRK to denuclearize and rejoin the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime. He also added that while Russia will extend North Korea economic aid, primarily energy assistance, it would not offer a light-water nuclear reactor (LWR), which is what Pyongyang now demands as a precondition for denuclearization.plus ca change
Other opinions are more varied. Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Duma's International Affairs Committee, emphasized Pyongyang's long record of unpredictability, whereas Major General Nikolai Bezborodov of the Duma Defense Committee openly supported North Korea's right to a peaceful nuclear program. But Russian media were more unrestrained in their assessments. Moscow Gazeta openly called this accord a victory for North Korea as it won guarantees of energy aid and security, even though it had to promise to renounce its nuclear program.
The government paper, Rossiiskaya gazeta, said that Pyongyang "won the battle of nerves" with Washington, forcing the U.S. to recognize its right to a peaceful nuclear program and to discuss supplying it with a light-water reactor and energy assistance. Washington also had to formally state that it had no intention of attacking North Korea and promise "to respect each other's sovereignty, to coexist peacefully, and to improve relations." These media outlets see the accord in this light despite the fact that they and other media, e.g. Politkom.ru, along with Moscow Gazeta.ru, observed that Pyongyang, by demanding a LWR as a precondition for denuclearizing, has reverted to its habitual nuclear blackmail of the other five parties and did so because North Korea remains a socialist state and its negotiators were accused of conceding too much in Beijing.