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PacNet #39 – Maintaining momentum with North Korea

Pyongyang’s two-week postponement of the Six-Party Talks may have been designed simply to demonstrate that North Korea will not negotiate “under pressure.” In defending the delay, the North cited both the U.S.-ROK Ulchi Focus Lens military exercise that ended Sept. 2 and U.S. appointment of a DPRK human rights coordinator. But the delay may also have reflected a more fundamental decision by the North to stall on dismantling its entire nuclear program, at least as long as the Bush administration remains in place, if not longer. One hopes this is not the case, because, despite U.S. woes from Iraq to New Orleans, it would be very risky for Pyongyang to count on U.S. tolerance of the status quo until President Bush leaves office.