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North Korea breakthrough
by Amin George Forji
2007-02-16 08:25:58
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Delegates at the ongoing six-party talks in the Chinese capital of Beijing, which were aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapon programme, made a major breakthrough by reaching a tentative draft document outlining steps for eventual disarmament, after prolonging discussions. The draft text has now been distributed to all the parties concerned for final approval.

Speaking to anxious reporters, Assistant Secretary Of State Christopher Hill, the chief US negotiator, announced that the consensus was only reached with every party making some compromises. "The Chinese side distributed a final text which will be referred to the capitals of the delegations. Everybody had to make some changes to try to narrow the differences...Let's get the thing approved, and then we can talk who did what." When asked if the talks were going to be postponed, Hill responded that there would be no problem with that so long as progress is being made, "In these negotiations, you stay as long as it takes, and as long as you're making progress."

Although the final draft text in question has not yet been made public, the New York Times, nevertheless, reported that according to the deal, North Korea has been called to complete the "permanent disablement" of its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon within 60 days in exchange of energy assistance from the US, China and South Korea in the form of 500,000 tons of heavy oil, as well as other energy and humanitarian assistance. Moreover, China is called upon to provide Pyonyong with food and medical aid.

South Korea's diplomat, Chun Yung-woo told reporters that he was very optimistic that Pyonyong will embrace the new plan, "I am looking forward to hearing good news. I hope it will be a good day for all of us...no country had raised an objection to the principle." Delegates from North Korea, South Korea, the US, Japan, Russia and China convened for yet another round of ”stop-start” six-party talks, which have been going on for over three years now.

Pressure for North Korea to halt its nuclear programme intensified after she successfully launched its first nuclear test last October, prompting severe international condemnation. China, a close ally of Pyonyong, has been particularly instrumental in persuading North Korea to shut down its Yongbyon nuclear reactor. If finally approved, the present draft text will be the furthest the six-party talks have ever gone.

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Sand2007-02-15 10:01:21
Insofar as diplomatic values are concerned North Korea has capitalized on the exchange value of nuclear armaments. Viewed as a commercial venture it seems to have been successful. Although North Korea has been accused of blackmail in gaining its ends it might be more rational to consider it as a purely marketplace interaction of the exchange of a potential threat for the oil it desired. The question arises now as to what North Korea will offer in threat for more oil when the present supply runs out.

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