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PacNet #41B – Dealing with North Korea

What is North Korea up to? Is it trying to undermine the Six-Party Talks in order to force Washington to deal with Pyongyang directly, as some experts claim? Or, as others maintain with equal certainty, is it sending a signal that it is not interested in talks at all, given current domestic political uncertainties surrounding the poor health of “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il and his efforts to elevate his third son as the heir-apparent? Or is Pyongyang merely laying the groundwork for eventual talks, but only on its terms, which include acceptance of North Korea as a nuclear weapons state? The real answer is probably some combination of all of the above but the truthful answer is we really don’t know; when it comes to understanding North Korean motives, we’re all guessing.