Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Silence around the New Six Party Deal Says the NTP Regime Now Dwells among the Living Dead

Here's the full text of the Initial Actions for the Implementation of the Joint Statement. This is the link to the 2005 Sept. 19 Joint Statement.

What will happen now? The 2005 Sept. 19 Joint Statement states that "[t]he DPRK committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs". The Feb. 13 Action Plan calls for "a complete declaration of all nuclear programs and disablement of all existing nuclear facilities" in "the next phase" where the rest (950,000 tons) of the 1,000,000 tons of heavy fuel oil will be delivered.

So, Will North Korea declare its nuclear weapons and uranium enrichment program? Or will it claim that the nuclear weapons are not part of the deal and deny that it has an enrichment program? Will they even come up with a program within the next 60 days to discuss, instead claiming that they will "discuss a list" and only after that will actually produce one? Note also that there is no mention of their ballistic missile program.

It remains far from clear that we will not wind up at the end of the "next phase" with a North Korea holding on to its nuclear warheads, a ballistic missile program, and 1,000,000 tons of heavy fuel oil.

As for Japan, we are not going to pony up for the initial 50,000 ton fuel tranche, and neither will Russia, if the Yomiuri has gotten it right. But can we avoid pitching in for the remainder if North Korea is less than forthcoming on the abductees issue (where I think North Korea has very little room to give) but does move forward on the others? If it comes to that, the Abe administration will be conflicted.

The lack of talk about the NPT regime is telling though. Yes, the 2005 Sept. 19 Joint Statement explicitly refers to the NPT, and what are the "IAEA personnel" if not the personification of said regime? But with uncertainty about the nuclear weapons and the enrichment program, there should be some mention of the implications, no?

Actually, with outsider India about to receive universal blessing (Japan is apparently preparing to come around), Pakistan grudgingly accepted, and Israel implicitly supported by the US, the Non-NPT house is gaining legitimacy. The NPT regime itself now walks among us unseen. The UN downgrading of its Department for Disarmament cannot be a coincidence. It seems likely, then, that North Korea also thinks it can find a way to keep its hands on those nuclear weapons. This is not good for Japan. And the main concern of our security provider, the US, over North Korea's nuclear program has always been, always will be, proliferation.

Quo vadis?

Note: Shigeru Ishiba, the ex-Self Defense Minister and go-to guy on security issues, has made an explicit, quid pro quo link between our Iraqi excursion in support of the US and the unconditional guarantee from the US nuclear umbrella. We are lucky that we were unable to go in any deeper. Although this is not a situation that is likely to repeat itself in the near future (assuming only surgical strikes at most on Iran), it does cast some doubt on the efficacy of the linkage.

No comments: