Sunday, September 02, 2007

They Said that Christopher Hill Was a Good Man

Indeed, everybody heaped praise on Christopher Hill when he assumed responsibility for North Korea. However, an assistant secretary is an assistant secretary. When the Bush administration puts an assistant secretary in charge and lets everybody else walk away and cares so little that a crucial bank transfer can lie in limbo for two months, while the rest of the deal comes to a dead stop, then it's hard not to draw the conclusion that the Bush administration isn't really worrying about nuclear proliferation when it comes to North Korea. Which means, I think, that the Abe administration can put off making hard decisions with respect to the abductees issue for the time being, even as the Six-Party talks are being readied for resumption.

2 comments:

Ross said...

Hill works for Bush. Hill is doing what the Bush administration wants him to do. Defusing risks in NE Asia has not been high on the list of priorities for the Bush administration. Promoting confrontation has been standard operating procedure, on the Korean peninsula and elsewhere. Makes me wonder why Abe and the LDP have thought and behaved like the Republican party was a good ally. Unless that is, Abe et al prefer confrontation as well.

Jun Okumura said...

Thanks, Ross. I don't think that Mr. Abe has any choice. He rode the wave of public anger over the abductees issue to prominence and, ultimately, the Prime Minister's chair, and is in no position to undertake the extremely difficult task of the unraveling the now-hardened knot of anger. Time has dulled public sentiment, but he of all people cannot afford to activate it again.

Chris Hill has encouraging words from Geneva about the North Korean nuclear program. Personally, I don't see what would induce North Korea to officially admit to having a uranium enrichment program, given the intrusive and possibly inconclusive inspections that would be required to ensure complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling. Likewise in reporting and accounting for the nuclear weapons. And agreement on these two matters is crucial to any progress towards the next step. I hope they pleasantly surprise me and put Japan on the spot. But I still doubt it