In the Arena

Diplomatic Victory in North Korea

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As I was saying yesterday, there would be more encouraging developments from North Korean soon. Now comes word that the North Koreans will blow up the cooling tower at its Yongbyon nuclear power plant, the source of the plutonium used to make its bombs. Congratulations to George W. Bush for finally making the correct choice–diplomatic engagement, regional talks that enabled quiet unofficial contacts with the North Koreans, which then led to direct negotiations–in resolving this dispute. Wonder what John Bolton is thinking this morning?

Update: John McCain has just released this statement, which is a bit too grudging for my taste, but does raise the appropriate questions going forward:

“The announcement today that North Korea has provided information concerning elements of its nuclear program is a modest step forward, as will be the destruction of the disabled cooling tower of Yongbyon. But it is only a step covering one part of North Korea’s nuclear activities. It is important to remember our goal has been the full, permanent and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. That must remain our goal. The Six Party agreement called for North Korea to make a full declaration of all its nuclear weapons and nuclear programs. Many questions remain about North Korea’s programs, including the disposition of plutonium at Yongbyon, the number and status of nuclear weapons, the nature of the highly-enriched uranium program, and the extent of proliferation activities in countries like Syria. I also want to make sure we fully account for the legitimate concerns of our South Korean and Japanes e allies as we move forward. I understand certain sanctions were lifted today, some may be lifted in 45 days, and others remain in place.
“As we review this declaration and attempt to verify North Korean claims, we must keep diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea to meet all of its obligations under the Six Party agreement, including denuclearization. If we are unable to fully verify the declaration submitted today and if I am not satisfied with the verification mechanisms developed, I would not support the easing of sanctions on North Korea.”