Sunday, October 30, 2005

Good news on Nork nukes: China invests its prestige 

Here's a bit of good news:
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il told China's President Hu Jintao he'll abide by a joint statement on ending his country's nuclear weapons program and will return to six-nation talks in Beijing next month, a Chinese official said.

Kim ``believes the joint statement is positive and said (North Korea) will honor the statement and will come back to the fifth round in Beijing as scheduled,'' Wang Jiarui, minister in charge of the International Department of China's Central Committee, told reporters at a briefing in Beijing today.

Partisan sniping notwithstanding, the Bush administration's "six-party" (i.e., not unilateral) strategy for dealing with North Korea seems to be paying off. True, the Norks have cheated and retreated before, but (I believe) that this is the first time that China has invested its prestige in North Korea's promise to get rid of its nukes. Even Kim Jong Il will be loathe to embarrass Hu Jintao, Hu whiled away three unbelievably tedious days in Pyongyang (can you imagine how painful that must have been?).

That the president of China would spend all that time with Kim Jong Il proves, unfortunately, that nuclear weapons get you some meetings with important people. But it also requires that the important people emerge with a commitment, and in the end China holds the cards. Prediction alert: When all is said and done, North Korea will disgorge its nukes, the United States will continue to shrink its presence in South Korea, and in return China will guarantee that Kim Jong Il remains in power. What does China get? A guarantee that the United States will not seek to remove Kim Jong Il, or support any other effort to unify the Korean peninsula under one government.


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