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Analysis: What's The Next Step In N.Korea?

Washington wants North Korea to follow the lead of Libya, where Moammar Gadhafi in 2003 renounced plans to develop weapons of mass destruction. North Korea believes it faces a different reality. In the opinion of Kim Jong Il, North Korea is in a state of war with the United States.

Washington (UPI) Oct 12, 2005
The Sept. 19 agreement that signaled North Korea's apparent intention of halting its nuclear program was widely hailed as a breakthrough, but three weeks later questions still remain about what happens next.

Meeting in Beijing the six countries participating in the talks -- the United States, Russia, China, Japan and North and South Korea -- produced a "Declaration of Principles" in which Pyongyang agreed to renew its commitment to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, and to allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, to inspect its nuclear facilities.

In return the North Korean regime would receive a U.S. package of security guarantees and help in developing peaceful nuclear technology to solve its energy problems, humanitarian aid, and the somewhat vaguer promise of renewed diplomatic relations in the future. But with the next round of the six-party talks due next month, the question who has to take the next step remains unsolved.

North Korea can only expect security guarantees, diplomatic relations and humanitarian aids if it "promptly eliminated all nuclear weapons and all nuclear programs", Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill told a congressional hearing last Thursday. The U.S. chief negotiator at the talks added Pyongyang had to demonstrate "a sustained commitment to cooperation and to transparency."

North Korea, however, expects the United States to make the first move. The Koreans want delivery of two light-water reactors, which the regime says were promised by the Clinton administration but were never delivered.

Tension had eased under Clinton, and then U.S. Secretary of State Madleine Albright had visited the North Korean capital. But the Bush administration took a harder line, with Bush bracketing North Korea as a member of his "axis of evil" in his 2002 State of the Union address.

Washington wants North Korea to follow the lead of Libya, where Moammar Gadhafi in 2003 renounced plans to develop weapons of mass destruction. North Korea believes it faces a different reality. In the opinion of Kim Jong Il, North Korea is in a state of war with the United States.

From the North Korean perspective, though Clinton had promised not to invade North Korea, Bush's election represented a shift of U.S. policy. Bush had invaded Iraq, another member of the axis, thus raising the possibility of an attack on Pyongyang.

"North Korea has a strong feeling to defend itself," says David Albright, president of the Institute of Science and International Security, a think tank located in Washington. He added the country, however, started its nuclear program before Bush's speech.

The situation of North Korea is in any case not comparable to the Libyan situation. First, the North Korean nuclear program is bigger then Gadhafi's's program was. Second, Washington has found Kim does not respond to any economic sanctions which only bring suffering to the North Korean people.

Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., referring to U.N. statistics, said in the Thursday hearing: "40 percent of North Korean children suffer from stunted growth. 20 percent are underweight."

Washington can't pressure North Korea by convincing the U.N. World Food Program to stop deliveries. "The Chinese will help them out," says Joel Wit from the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "China is already the biggest food donor to North Korea. Beijing will not let them collapse."

Officials in Washington are aiming to secure clearer definitions at the next round of talks, and beyond that the implementation process still lies ahead. "The US has to be an active participant from the very beginning," says Wit.

The road map for North Korea's denuclearization will have to include simultaneous steps. One side will move only if the other side moves. "80 percent of the hard work is still in front of us," says Wit. "But in the past, North Korea has been surprisingly flexible if the right incentives were offered."

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Indian Troopers Cross Kashmir Border To Offer Help
Srinagar, India (AFP) Oct 12, 2005
Indian soldiers Wednesday crossed the de facto border dividing the Indian and Pakistani zones of disputed Kashmir to rebuild a quake-destroyed bunker, an Indian army spokesman said.







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