North Korea is
starving again, big time. The North Korean government has now admitted it, and
says it will need at least a million tons of food in the next year, to feed its
23 million people. That's about 20 percent of total food needs. In the last few
years, North Korea has been shutting down food aid programs by the UN and other
foreign NGOs, largely in response to demands that distribution of food to the
needy be monitored. Meanwhile, food donations to North Korea have shrunk
because of mounting evidence that much of the food was diverted to the military
or sold to raise cash. The UN is asking food donor nations to ignore past North
Korean misbehavior, and to resume giving in the hope that some of the food
would reach the starving North Koreans.
March 28, 2007: The U.S. has been
unable to transfer the frozen $25 million from a Macao back to one in China's
capital (which has North Korean accounts), because no bank wants to risk
getting caught in further banking crackdowns against North Korea. Even the
personal appearance of a senior U.S. banking official has not convinced Chinese
bankers, yet. North Korean wants that
money before it will shut down its nuclear reactor. However, it has also been
agreed that the $25 million will be used for "humanitarian purposes."
March 27, 2007: South Korea resumed
economic aid to the north by sending 6,500 tons of fertilizer, by ship.
However, food shipments will not be resumed until North Koreas nuclear reactor
is shut down in mid April.
March 25, 2007: U.S. intelligence
analysts believe that North Koreas nuclear test was a failure, and that North
Korea does not have a working nuclear weapon design.
March 21, 2007: North Korea has
agreed to shut down its nuclear reactor (which produces the plutonium required
for nuclear weapons) by mid April, as long as it receives $25 million frozen in
a Macao bank since 2005, and 50,000 tons of fuel oil.