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North Korea Revives Stalling Tactics

File photo of Palace in Pyongyang.
by Lee Jong-Heon
UPI Correspondent
Seoul (UPI) March 21, 2007
As North Korea walked away from the negotiating table over a money transfer, South Korean analysts predict nuclear talks would be further stalled because Pyongyang is unlikely to drop its nuclear card.

North Korea has developed nuclear weapons for decades as a matter of survival in the face of outside threats, and it is not expected to abandon atomic weapons until the regime fully ensures its survival, analysts say, warning against overly optimistic views on defusing the nuclear standoff.

South Korea's diplomatic chief also described North Korea on Wednesday as "a headache and a hard-to-understand group" that makes the nuclear dialogue a fragile process, blaming the North's stalling tactics.

The warnings come at a time when the hard-won dialogue momentum on Pyongyang's nuclear drive was at risk of losing its way after the North's delegates suddenly left six-nation talks and refused to rejoin until $25 million of its funds are released from a Macau bank. North Koreans walked out of the multilateral dialogue on Tuesday afternoon, complaining the money has not been transferred yet to its accounts at a Chinese bank -- denting hopes of turning the dialogue focus to the central issue of disabling Pyongyang's nuclear facilities.

The new round of six-party talks opened in Beijing on Monday with emerging optimism after the United States decided to release Pyongyang's funds frozen at Banco Delta Asia, clearing the key stumbling block to the nuclear disarmament of the communist country. The U.S. Treasury Department announced the decision just hours before the opening of the six-party talks, in a bid to push for major breakthroughs in the years-long nuclear standoff.

North Korea had long boycotted the talks aimed at ending its nuclear-arms ambitions after the United States slapped restrictions in late 2005 on the Macau bank accused of laundering money for Pyongyang. Under the U.S. measure, the bank has frozen some $25 million of the North's holdings in about 50 accounts and cut off transactions with the communist nation, which is believed to choke off Pyongyang's cash flow.

After its nuclear test in October last year the North returned to the six-party nuclear talks and agreed on an aid-for-arms deal last month. But it threatened to back away from the recent nuclear accord unless the financial issue was fully resolved.

Under the Feb. 13 accord, the North promised to shut down and seal its plutonium-producing reactor at Yongbyon within 60 days in exchange for up to 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil and equivalent energy.

Expressing his disappointment at the North's moves, South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-soon said North Korea is hard to understand, calling it "a headache." In an address at a Seoul forum, he said the six-party talks are a "fragile process," given Pyongyang's unpredictable behavior and the complexity of the dispute on its nuclear program, according to Seoul's Yonhap News Agency.

Nam Joo-hong, a political scientist at Kyonggi University in Seoul, said the North would not give up the nuclear drive because it has pursued nuclear weapons for "nation building," not just for military building. "As long as the North remains as a garrison state, it is highly unlikely for the country to give up the nuclear card just in return for economic benefits," he said, citing the North's leader Kim Jong Il's ruling principle of Songun or army first.

Songun is the hallmark of Kim's politics, a guiding policy that subordinates everything to the armed forces. The North's 1.2 million-strong armed forces, the world's fifth largest, are the backbone of Kim's iron-fisted rule.

Kim Young-soo, a North Korea specialist at Seoul's Sogang University, also said the North has the nuclear card as a "matter of survival," predicting Pyongyang is unlikely to drop the nuclear drive.

Ryu Ho-yol, who teaches North Korean affairs at Korea University, predicts the North would stall the nuclear negotiations, making new demands that can be hardly accepted.

Source: United Press International

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North Korea Demands Money China Bank Declines North Korean Account Application
Beijing (AFP) March 21, 2007
North Korean nuclear disarmament talks stalled again on Wednesday as Pyongyang refused to come to the negotiating table until 25 million dollars in frozen funds were back in its coffers.

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