- March 7 - Only a day after the U.S. hinted that it would resume a policy of
engagement with North Korea, President Bush has abruptly changed course and
decided that name calling rather than negotiations is the best policy.
In his meeting today with South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, Bush labeled
North Korea a threat and indicated that the U.S. was not ready to resume
negotiations on ending the country's development and export of ballistic
missiles and related technologies.
"If the U.S. does view North Korea as a threat, all the more reason to
accelerate negotiations, not postpone them," said Steve LaMontagne,
Non-Proliferation Research Analyst at Council for a Livable World Education
Fund. The Council is a Washington DC-based arms control advocacy
"The administration's overnight shift in rhetoric will only make it more
difficult to rein in North Korea's nuclear and missile programs," continued
Secretary of State Colin Powell echoed the President's remarks, "It [North
Korea] is a threat. It's got a huge army poised on the border within
artillery and rocket distance of South Korea."
Powell's remarks stand in sharp contrast to comments he made yesterday."We
do plan to engage with North Korea to pick up where President Clinton and
his administration left off," Powell said at a news conference. "Some
promising elements were left on the table, and we'll be examining those
Today's comments come at a crucial time. The 1994 Agreed Framework, under
which North Korea suspended its nuclear weapons program in exchange for two
light-water reactors from an international consortium led by the U.S., is
being heavily criticized. Last month North Korea stated that it may end its
moratorium on missile tests.
"The Bush Administration remarks threaten to push North Korea back into
isolation and antagonize it into resuming its pursuit of ballistic missiles
and nuclear weapons," LaMontagne argued. "North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il
is already upset at what it perceives as a hard-line stance from the Bush
administration." he added.
For more information on the Agreed Framework and missile talks with North
Korea, please call or email for an issue brief.