Korea: The Phony Peace

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February20, 2007: The latest North Korean disarmament deal is similar to the one in 1994, the one that North Korea violated the terms of, while accepting most of the goodies. But this time it's different. The verification routines for the new deal are stricter, and the U.S. has partners (China, Japan, South Korea and Russia). The main component of the bribe (worth up to half a billion dollars) is oil, to be delivered by South Korea. It's quite likely North Korea will try to cheat on this deal, as it has done in the past. The North Korean police state is still in business, still broke, and still on the prowl for handouts and bribes.

February 19, 2007: North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has ordered all Japanese made cars in the country seized. Kim is angry with Japan, which refuses to give North Korea any more freebies until the North Koreans come clean on all the Japanese it kidnapped over the last few decades. The kidnapped Japanese issue is big in Japan, and Japanese politicians cannot ignore it.

February 18, 2007: North Korea has a measles epidemic on its hands, and is calling for international help to stop it. North Korea had announced, in 1992, that is had eliminated measles within its borders. That may have been the case, and the disease may have been brought back by a diplomat, or other traveler. When the measles outbreak began last November, health workers did not recognize it at first, and it has since spread to over a third of the country. Thousands of people have been infected, and an unknown number have died. The North Korean health system is mainly a sham, with lots of "trained medical personnel," but little in the way of equipment or medicine.

February 1 7, 2007: Based on past performance, much of the new aid going to North Korea is expected to go to the military, and the few thousand families that control the country. The North Korean armed forces have been starved of new equipment, spare parts and fuel for some two decades now. Training, discipline and loyalty have all declined. The secret police have to spend more and more of their time keeping an eye on the army. The armed forces needs help, fast, before it falls apart.

February 16, 2007: As expected, North Korea is now delivering the fine print to its rather vague disarmament deal. First, it wants a light water nuclear reactor (one that will not produce bomb fuel) to replace the one it is shutting down, and the disarmament deal is not permanent. That last point was expected. North Korean has the knowledge, and any missiles or nuclear bombs that are dismantled, can quickly be rebuilt.

February 15, 2007: North Korea is eager to get food and fertilizer aid from the south restored. The aid was suspended last July because of North Korean missile and nuclear tests. The northerners put on a brave face to all this, but the loss of that aid, and much else besides (because of the weapons tests) is causing suffering and death up north.

February 13, 2007: North Korea agreed to shut down its nuclear reactor, and eventually, well, maybe, dismantle its nuclear weapons. This would be done in return for of 7.3 million barrels (one million tons) of oil. Five percent of the oil will be delivered as soon as the nations main nuclear reactor (used to create bomb material) is shut down. This is to happen within sixty days and verified by international inspectors. The rest of the oil, plus unspecified amounts of electricity and food aid, will be delivered as other components of North Korea's nuclear weapons program is dismantled. The details on this are vague, but the bribe is real, and worth up to half a billion dollars. South Korea, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia are sharing the cost.

 

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