2003 February 13 Thursday
China, EU want US-North Korea Unilateral Diplomacy

Oh, the irony. China and the EU want the United States to pursue a unilateral course with North Korea while the United States wants a diplomatic negotiation process that involves many interested nations sitting down with North Korea at the same time. Jim Hoagland reports that China and the EU want direct US-North Korean talks.

China's foreign ministry on Tuesday publicly endorsed Pyongyang's demand for talks only with the United States. Astonishingly, Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy spokesman and a genuine advocate of strong transatlantic ties, chimed in during the same Beijing news conference to say that "the most important thing at this point is direct dialogue" between Washington and Pyongyang.

Hoagland says that South Korea and China both misread US intentions on North Korea. I'm skeptical on that point. Hoagland doesn't specify what South Korea and China think the US intentions are. A more likely possibility is that both South Korea and China understand US intentions and are opposed to them.

China and the United States have conflicting interests on North Korea. China is not afraid that North Korea might attack China and hence has no fear of North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile development efforts). At the same time China wants North Korea as a buffer between it and South Korea. Plus, the Beijing regime doesn't want a popular revolt in North Korea giving Chinese people any ideas about doing the same.

South Korea and the United States also have conflicting interests on North Korea. South Korea just wants to buy off North Korea so that South Korea won't have to suffer hundreds of thousands of casualties fighting it (which is certainly understandable). South Korea's interests are parochial and encompass just the Korean peninsula. Of course South Korea's leaders might be misjudging the North Korean regime. It may well be that once North Korea has a large number of nuclear weapons and plenty of missile delivery vehicles that at that point it will greatly up its extortion demands or even demand that South Korea disarm and submit itself to the North Korean regime's political will. But the South Korean leaders do not seem to think this is a likely possibility.

By contrast, the national security thinkers in the United States take a much larger view of the threat from North Korea. The US is worried about the specter of Nuclear KMart and the global risks posed by North Korea. North Korea has so far demonstrated a willingness to sell any military technology it can make and to anyone who has the money to pay. The US is also concerned that once North Korea can deliver nuclear weapons via ICBMs to strike the US that the US will face a greater set of extortion demands from North Korea. Plus, there is the fear that North Korean regime, being so isolated and paranoid, could miscalculate and fire off missiles at the United States. Therefore what we have is a conflict of interests between China, the United States, and South Korea over what to do about North Korea.

US concerns are certainly well justified by the rhetoric that comes from North Korea. North Korea's leaders do not speak calm tones and don't shrink from threatening to wreak havoc on other nations. North Korea is not bashful about threatening to attack the United States.

"Wherever they are we can attack them," Foreign Ministry official Ri Kwang Hyok told France's Agence France-Presse news agency in an interview in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.

"There's no limit to our attack ability. The strike force of the Korean People's Army will take on the enemy wherever he is," Ri was quoted as saying.

Out of the three regional neighbors of North Korea the one that most closely shares US concerns is Japan. Japan fears a nuclear armed North Korea could attack Japan.

TOKYO: Japan would launch a military strike against North Korea if Tokyo had firm evidence that the Stalinist state was ready to attack with ballistic missiles, Japanese Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba said yesterday.

"It is too late if (a missile) flies towards Japan," Ishiba told Reuters in an interview.

In another blow to multilateral world government and the fantasy regime of international law as guarantor of security and peace China doesn't want the UN involved with North Korea.

China has warned the UN Security Council against getting involved in the North Korean nuclear crisis.

"The UN Security Council's involvement at this stage might not necessarily contribute to the settlement of the issue," said China's ambassador to the UN, Zhang Yan.

COIA directory George Tenet suggests North Korea wants it all: US acceptance of its existence, more aid, its own nukes, freedom to be a WMD arms dealer.

"Kim Jong Il's attempts to parlay the North's nuclear program into political leverage suggest he is trying to negotiate a fundamentally different relationship with Washington, one that implicitly tolerates the North's nuclear weapons program," Mr. Tenet told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Update: If you want to read more about the problem of North Korea read my Axis of Evil category archive.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 February 13 01:00 PM  Axis Of Evil

Someone said at January 24, 2005 3:05 PM:

I just wanted to know where you got some of your evidence from-- i.e. where i could find the article that says EU/China want direct talks. The link says it has 'expired'. Perhaps someone could e-mail it to me?

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