Korea: Going for the Gold

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January2, 2007: The United States has gotten North Korea's attention, and in an unexpected way. By telling the world's banks that they will be cut off from access to the U.S. banking system if they do business with North Korea, the North Koreans suddenly find that many of their criminal activities are much more difficult, if not impossible, to carry out. The American plan was accompanied by U.S. government officials giving a compelling presentation detailing North Korean crimes, and abuse of the international banking system. This convinced all the major international banks that it was not worth the trouble, and risk, to do business with the North Koreans. As a result, North Korea has put regaining access to the banking system at the top of its list of demands. The U.S. has told North Korea that, if the nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs are shut down, along with the drug dealing and counterfeiting, American banking restrictions would be lifted. The North Koreans are fuming over that, and are getting desperate, as can be seen in the attempt to sell their gold reserves.

January 1, 2007: Economic reforms in North Korea have made it easier for people with government jobs, or connections, to go into business and make more money. But for most urban North Koreans, the higher prices (particularly for food) have been a real hardship. Also, the bribes government officials demand to get things done (like getting promotions, or a kid into college), have gone up.

December 30, 2006: South Korea's Defense Ministry issued their bi-annual report on North Korean military strength. Although North Korea's conventional forces continue to decline due to lack of money for maintenance and fuel, the northerners now have enough nuclear material for seven atomic bombs, and still maintain a large supply of chemical and biological (mainly Anthrax) weapons. While South Korea now possesses the capability to shut down most of the missiles and artillery aimed at Seoul, the North Koreans can still deliver nuclear, chemical and biological warheads to South Koreans largest city. For this reason, many South Korean, and foreign, diplomats suggest that South Korea give in to the North Korean extortion demands, as it is also obvious that the communist police state up north is coming apart and will eventually collapse. Other nations, led by the U.S., want the North Korean dictatorship put out of business, sooner rather than later, in order to avoid North Korea selling any of its special weapons to terrorists. North Korea has been selling weapons, drugs, counterfeit currency and just about anything else, for years in order to keep its decrepit dictatorship alive. But South Korea sees the north as a more immediate threat to itself, than to any foreign country, and demands that it's kinder and gentler approach be adopted by all.

December 28, 2006: North Korea is attempting to circumvent American banking restrictions by registering with a London gold trading organization, in preparation for a sale of its gold reserves (of some $25 billion). The gold is the North Korean emergency reserve, and when it is being sold, it means the north is out of options. Several hundred million dollars worth of gold was sold in 2006, apparently in barter deals, outside the banking system.

 

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