Patterico's Pontifications


North Korea Agrees to Give Up Nuclear Weapons Program

Filed under: International — Patterico @ 10:58 pm

This is potentially very good news indeed: North Korea has agreed to give up its nuclear weapons program.

While our optimism should be cautious, let’s hope it really means something. (Via Kevin Drum.)

UPDATE: Commenters here are skeptical . . .

UPDATE x2: In the comments, AMac asks: why are the North Koreans making this concession now? One possible answer is in the linked story:

“The United States affirmed that is has no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula and has no intention to attack or invade (North Korea) with nuclear or conventional weapons,” according to the statement, assurances echoed by South Korea.

That is a concession that I believe we have been unwilling to make until now. So the relevant question might be: why is the United States making this concession now?

39 Responses to “North Korea Agrees to Give Up Nuclear Weapons Program”

  1. I don’t want (yes I do) to spoil the party, but DPRK agreed to stop its nuclear development program–not to give up its nukes.

    Soooo, if they already converted all the Plutonium and Uranium they have to weapons (4-8 of them), what exactly are they saying they are giving up?

    And, BTW, where do you think they got that Uranium and Plutonium in the first place? What are they agreeing to get?

    (If they think we are stupid, they are probably going off past history and present gullibility).

    Paul Deignan (664c74)

  2. Oh, here is what they want:

    North Korean officials had also demanded the country be given a light-water nuclear reactor at the latest talks a type believed to be less easily diverted for weapons use but Washington had said it and other countries at the talks wouldn’t meet that request.


    Paul Deignan (664c74)

  3. “Trust, but verify.”

    Paul Albers (7494b1)

  4. And its a really great thing that we will give them light water reactors. This way this will not need to do all the enrichment themselves.

    Isn’t it time for Bush to resign?

    Paul Deignan (9e57a7)

  5. This should not even be a news story. The NORKS have promised to abandon nukes so many times the AP has got the story on a macro. There’s nothing to see here.

    Spoons (be25c9)

  6. Just like that time they did in the 90s, huh?

    Angry Clam (fa7fff)

  7. …and the North Koreans are abruptly making these unprecedented concessions that they could have made any time in the past decade, why?

    –Because they’re responding to the sudden unanimimity and seriousness of purpose of the other Five Nations?
    –Because they are abruptly afraid of what Defying The United States might mean?

    –Because all at once they realize the immorality of their nuke program (can concessions on chemical-weapons tests on gulag prisoners be far behind)?

    –Because they finally realized that all of the appeasement, blackmail payments, and public sympathy they’ve been getting from South Korea was just for show?

    I’m stumped.

    Unless what Steven Bradner wrote for the UN Command in 2000 about the “Kim Family Regime” remains true. Summary: The KFR should be seen as an organized crime family whose fiefdom happens to be a country. Their non-negotiable objective is to reunite Korea under their control. Peacefully if possible, otherwise, a gamble on war when the time is right.

    AMac (b6037f)

  8. Re: #4

    “Isn’t it time for Bush to resign?”

    No! It would be wrong. Critics of the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina have been overly quick to blame President Bush and slow, or blind, to the primary responsibility of state and local authorities. That’s changing but not everyone’s got the word yet.

    To grasp the significance of “primary responsibility” is to begin the process of understanding the reasons why hurricane damage in both Mississippi and Alabama is strikingly different from in Louisiana, and particularly in NOLA. However, the distinction is not lost on the citizens of Louisiana, who have started a Recall Blanco campaign.

    Their list of charges follows:

    Specifically Governor Kathleen Blanco:
    Failed to execute the state’s emergency plan to safeguard the citizens by ordering a mandatory evacuation of Southern Louisiana in a timely manner.
    Purposefully withheld food, water and hygiene items from the tens of thousands of victims stranded at the Superdome and the New Orleans Convention Center in an effort to get them to leave the area.
    Delayed sending the Louisiana National Guard to maintain order in the city of New Orleans for four days, allowing snipers to hamper rescue efforts and permitting looters to ransack homes and businesses.
    Chose to spend the days after Hurricane Katrina engaged in partisan bickering and finger pointing rather than giving FEMA and the U.S. military the authority they needed to take over the rescue effort, relieve suffering, and save lives.
    Under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which was revised after 9/11, the Federal Government and FEMA are not allowed to interfere with local operations unless they are authorized by state and local leaders. Blanco refused to give the authorization even though she later acknowledged that President Bush begged her to do so.

    Trying to blame the disaster on President Bush is plain wrong. America’s enemies would like nothing better than to see our country do something so monumentally stupid. They would rejoice in the streets, like they did after 9/11, if we allowed such “Chicken Little” over-the-top reactions to guide our nation. Now is the time for mature judgments and sound reasoning to prevail, not hysterical finger pointing and misplaced blame games.

    President Bush is our elected leader, the country is at war, we have a national disaster to deal with, and both the Democrat Party and MSM are actively opposing the best interests of our county and our people. Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country. It is not the time to embrace the objectives of our enemies and seek to undermine confidence in our leadership.

    We have enemies both at home and abroad who would murder the innocent by the thousands to advance their sick agenda. President Bush is working to protect us against terrorist atrocities and to bring comfort to the afflicted. He is actively expanding self determination to women and the downtrodden, while seeking to bring down dictators and their totalitarian regimes around the world.

    Rather than running scared, sowing confusion, or pointing fingers in the wrong direction, it is much better to help out. If you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

    Black Jack (ee9fe2)

  9. Re. update x2:

    Okay, I can see the KFR engaging in that quid pro quo: “you remove your nukes from SK, and we open our U and Pu processing sites to inspection.”

    This may indeed be a worthwhile trade from the US’ perspective. Any achievable deal with this odious regime will be pretty unattractive.

    The KFR can pretty much trust us to keep up our end of any agreement. Hopefully our diplomats know enough not to reciprocate. The most they should realistically expect is

    “you remove your nukes from SK, and we open those U and Pu processing sites that you already know about to inspection, keep those A-bombs we’ve already made, continue our development of Taedong missiles, and trade technologies as we see fit with Iran and AQ Khan-style networks.”

    That may be about the best that the situation allows.

    AMac (b6037f)

  10. Sounds like the start of some wonderfully protracted negotiations, and, IMHO the longer, the better.

    North Korea cannot much longer withstand the problems that a ruined economy, drought with repeated crop failures and a suppressed population bring. The pressure is on Kim Jong Il, to prop up his diseased dictatorship.

    If the negotiating coalition can simply waffle, pontificate, fumble and prevaricate, (aka ‘business as usual’), I would proffer a prediction that the whole issue will become moot sooner than later. Here’s to a unified Korea!

    heldmyw (a999cd)

  11. Patterico,

    A small pt, but one you might pass on to your hosting service. Towit:

    If I forget to include my email addr – as happens often since I deliberately delete all cookies on my machine with each boot – your site deletes my comment. Argh, no warning, just complete destruction of the comment. Using the Back button doesn’t help – the comment is gone and I am too thick to think of something clever to say more than once.

    Could you gently point this out to them and request that a warning step be inserted? It’s a little frustrating to lose comments this way. Thx.

    Paul D,

    Bush wasn’t the president who gave nuke technology to NK; you’re thinking of Clinton, with an assist to Jimmah. In your zeal to blame Bush for everything (and your equal zeal as a faux intellectual to sound superior) you are neglecting even the most cursory recognition of recent history. Of course, your own neglect is also Bush’s fault.

    ras (f9de13)

  12. Saddam Hussein allowed inspections as well. Except for THIS palace. Oh, and this one. And not that base.

    “Allowing inspections” and complying with the terms of an agreement are often two entirely different things.

    Partisan Pundit (263854)

  13. North Korea Does Not Agree to Give Up Nuclear Program

    Patterico, for a guy that is particular about accuracy in the press, you might want to check the statement out.

    This is what it actually says:

    The DPRK committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning, at an early date, to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to IAEA safeguards.

    This is nothing. In time, we will give up all our nuclear weapons also. Some might be abandoned in the manner of the two we abandoned over Japan, some might be abandoned by prelocating them where we want to detonate them later. In time, everything you hold dear eventually is abandoned. An “early date” might be the turn of the millenium.

    An agreement is not a nebulous “commitment”. An agreement defines specific functionality. This is pure propaganda, nothing more.

    Paul Deignan (664c74)

  14. Please let me correct the first statement in the comments–it was based only on the press reports at the time, not on the actual statement which I found and linked later.

    The gist of the criticism is correct.

    Paul Deignan (664c74)

  15. ras,

    I did not say that Bush gave the nuclear material to DPRK although it looks like thats exactly what he is fixing to do now.

    Thus, he should resign. This “agreement” endangers us and is grossly irresponsible.

    There is absolutely no reason to give the DPRK nuclear technology of any sort. This is suicidal.

    Paul Deignan (664c74)

  16. Movement vs. Presence

    Over on the must-read blog Patterico’s Pontifications, Patterico wonders at the timing of North Korea’s abrupt about-face on its nuclear-weapons program. For those of you living in Carlsbad Caverns, the Kim Jong-Il regime agreed late yesterday night …

    Big Lizards (fe7c9d)

  17. There is no date specified for KFR to get rid of its nukes and its programs. China grew weary of hosting the talks and insisted on a settlement. Now everyone is happy because of this agreement. KFR will keep its nukes and its program until for its own reasons it decides to abandon them or use them.

    Stu707 (7c4f65)

  18. Paul D,

    Sigh. Bush should resign because of a rumor that he is considering a policy, the details of which are not known? And onepredicated at minimizing existing damage caused by Clinton initially providing the nuke technology to a Stalinist madman, which thereby gave Kimmy Boy the h-u-g-e bargaining chip in the first place?

    Look, if it makes your your endorphins flow when you bash Bush, that’s your biz. Enjoy. But at least make some sort of effort to get the facts straight first, would ya?

    ras (f9de13)

  19. Compare media pessimism about North Korea’s offer with their unbridled optimism when Clinton had Arafat and Israel together at Camp David. They trumpeted this as though the brilliant Clinton had achieved true mideast peace. It failed, of course, but he got credit for trying.

    bureaucrat (e8e868)

  20. Re: #11,

    ras, I have exactly the same problem. The best I can suggest is to make sure to fill-in the required name and email fields before you start to compose your comments. Good Luck, and thanks for posting your thoughts. They are both informative and interesting to read.

    Black Jack (ee9fe2)

  21. ras,

    It would be foolish to ask for his resignation for one particular thing. What I see is a pattern that bodes ill for national defense–particularily in the execution of the policy, not so much in the ideas.

    The DPRK problem is a problem of execution of a policy objective.

    Paul Deignan (9e57a7)

  22. “However, the distinction is not lost on the citizens of Louisiana, who have started a Recall Blanco campaign.

    Lets dump both of them, Bush and Blanco. Make everyone happy.

    actus (9982e6)

  23. Paul D,

    It would be foolish to ask for his resignation for one particular thing.

    Re-read your comment – that’s precisely what you did. I’ve seen you do it elsewhere, too, always with the same lack of evidence. But if you wanna “clarify” your position now, go ahead.

    Um, btw, what was it about this particular issue that caused you to call for a resignation, o considered one? If the issue had nothing to do with it, then why bring it up in this thread at all? And if the issue did catalyze your missive … how so?

    Look, you like to bash cuz it makes you feel smug about yourself. Fill your boots, man, what drive you. All I ask is that you at least justify your charges properly, and repetition of spurious charges does not constitute justification, no matter how many times you try or in how many venues. Disingenuous compassion doesn’t change that, either.

    ras (f9de13)

  24. ras,

    I go into it a bit on my blog. When I post it here, it is not my main point.

    Frankly, I like many of Bush’s ideas. However, there is a potentially fatal flaw that has made itself clear with Katrina. At that point, it is difficult to give him a pass for other aspects of this pattern (a failure to uphold the “faithfully execute the Office …” portion of the oath) and critical problems yet pending.

    It’s not partisan, it is a civic duty. It is the office that counts, not the officeholder.

    Bush is invited to my casa anytime for dinner. You too–just call in advance.

    Paul Deignan (9e57a7)

  25. Is anybody else enjoying the North Koreans’ cat-and-mouse games with the “great powers?” Everybody went “Yeah!” last week when North Korea did a U-turn on decades of policy and said “sure, we’ll get rid of our nuclear program.” This week, North Korea managed to freak out everybody by insisting on receiving a light-water reactor first, before disarming. Without the physical presence of the light-water reactor, the North Korean spokesman said, getting rid of their own nuclear installations was “unthinkable.”

    Predictably, Condoleezza Rice and Vladimir Putin threw a fit, but I am sure they’ll calm down after they consider the realities of the situation. Giving North Korea a light-water reactor will not significantly increase any nuclear-weapons risk beyond North Korea’s existing arsenal. If North Korea then dismantles its weapons program, the situation will be a gain for everyone. If it reneges on the dismantling, the West only will be out one light-water reactor. The logic of the situation is compelling, and it’s amusing to watch the North Koreans’ mastery of the negotiations. They have been vilified so long in the Western press, with images of starving peasants and thousands of soldiers marching with bayoneted rifles, and of course, their leader’s hair, that their obvious acumen has been obscured. I think we can look forward to a future North Korea that will outcompete many of its Asian neighbors. Imagine, South Korean capital and North Korean discipline. It could be a formidable combination.

    Personally, I find the North Korean demand reasonable and urge acceptance before a great chance is missed.

    Odysseus160 (987a0f)

  26. Sorry, but you are dead wrong.

    A light water reactor is just what they need to produce many more nukes.

    Ask yourself, of all the things in the world that we wouold give them for their nukes, why are they asking for the capability to make more?

    Its not a hard question. It was answered before.

    Don’t be a dunce about this. We can’t live with that much stupidity and neither can your children.

    Paul Deignan (d2fd7b)

  27. The US should take the money it spends on its stupid shuttle program, and the billions spent on this mythical emergency communications system designed as a result of 9-11, and spend it instead on bribing North Korean officials to accept Reunification with SK. Giving the top 100 NORKS $2 billion each would be money well spent.

    And hey, if reunification would allow us to withdraw troops from SK, this plan could “pay for itself”.

    Shredstar (532850)

  28. Rice and Putin agreed to give North Korea a light-water reactor *after* the dismantling of the present setup. If North Korea could make nuclear weapons in a light-water reactor, then what’s the point of making them disarm first and then give them the equipment to re-arm? Your knowledge of light-water reactors is, shall we say, nonexistent. And it’s not that difficult to get informed. Allow me to point to one reference, Wikipedia, that was well within your reach:

    In three lines it tells me you’re making up stuff as you go along. Ignorance is one thing, but the abuse is unwarranted. Please keep a civil tone.

    Odysseus160 (987a0f)

  29. See

    If North Korea could make nuclear weapons in a light-water reactor, then what’s the point of making them disarm first and then give them the equipment to re-arm?

    I also wonder. Oh, and don’t be a dunce.

    Paul Deignan (d2fd7b)

  30. Paul,

    Name-calling does not promote discourse that’s worth reading.

    Patterico (4e4b70)

  31. At least, the name-calling in that comment.

    Patterico (4e4b70)

  32. Patterico,

    My theme here is a criticism of gullibility. It’s the entire point because this “advance” relies on trust–trust that is not rational.

    So while “don’t be a dunce” as a concluding statement, might by some be taken as a personal criticism, it is no such thing. Rather, it is an exhortation not to be gullible-not to irrationally trust the DPRK.

    Odessyous, was thus invited to reply with a solid rational argument (if there is one), rather than an appeal to authority (or inferring that I am relying on such an appeal–I am not, I provided links). I also want to stand firm on the point, “don’t be a dunce” since Odysseous’s play for victimhood is in itself a way of shuting down dialog (we’ve all been this before).

    Had I wanted, I could have said, “Odyseous, (or Clyde or Jim-Bob — whatever your real name is that you are not opting to use so that you can defend that reputation of Odysseousxyz), you are clearly not a very intelligent fellow, I know just by three lines that you don’t know anything about light water reactors”.

    I did not say this. In fact, my statement was entirely consistent with my exhortation that “We can’t live with that much stupidity”. Note that I said “we”. I instinctivly and unfairly humbled myself in an attempt to empathise with the confused lost one. I feel his pain (apparently more than he–but how should I know, it is irrelevant and a distraction).

    So, I agree with your point in 30, as you know. Shall we ask Odysseous if he agrees? I am not clear on his position on the point.

    Paul Deignan (9e57a7)

  33. Re: #22

    Lets dump both of them, Bush and Blanco. Make everyone happy.

    Heck no. I like President Bush, he’s doing a pretty good job, especially so when you consider the major problems Clinton left unaddressed: economic recession; and terrorism.

    As for Governor Blanco, I’m sure Democrats would love to shove her overboard, but, they’ll never admit it. Dems have a real moral blind spot when it comes to incompetence or outright crooks on their team. However, they strangely display a highly refined nose for the imaginary sins of others. Blind to their own faults and quick to cry “wolf.”

    Nothing could be more telling than the example of Bill Clinton. He went on national TV, wagged his finger in the American public’s face, and lied like a dog. Then he made himself ridiculous by trying to weasel out parsing the word “is.”

    The Dems demigod is still around, still an object of adoration among the kool-aid crowd, and still a poster boy for MSM mendacity. Dems have no shame, none at all, and nearly everyone can see it.

    As bad as Clinton was for America,he was even worse for the Democrat Party. Dems showed a systemic inability to uphold their own principles, and a willingness to not only accept corrupt leaders, but to squander any semblance of individual integrity to defend the undefendable. Like Zell Miller says, they are a national party no more.

    If it wasn’t for MSM complicity Dems would be as scarce as Wiggs or Wobblies.

    Black Jack (ee9fe2)

  34. I have done some reading on light-water reactors, and I stand corrected. Most of the authorities I’ve found state that you *can* produce fissile material in a light-water reactor. It won’t be “bomb-grade” material as is preferred in nuclear weapons, but it can be further refined to make a low-yield weapon. It’s probably just as bad to be killed by a crummy atom bomb than a first-class atom bomb.

    Odysseus160 (2aa7ed)

  35. Paul D,

    Your attempt to rationalize childish name-calling is perhaps even more telling of your personality than the initial insult.

    Some people are simply educated beyond their abilities. Funny how easy it is to spot them, y’know?

    And Information Theory tells us how to route around their static. (oh dear, am I meaninglessly dropping high-falutin’ but irrelevant terminology into the conversation in an attempt to impress? Damn, where did I pick up such a bad habit?)

    ras (f9de13)

  36. You should concentrate more on the point that I am making than worrying about relationships with imaginary Greeks bearing gifts.

    Within hours of my inital criticism the DPRK made the US seems like a fool while doing exactly what I predicted. There is something there for you to learn.

    P.S. Check out my personality-ideology profile. My neuroticism scores are well below average. You would be better of focusing on the point of my defense–that stupidity requires a strong confrontation directly to reveal it for what it is despite the appeals to emotional blackmail. That is the hystrionic thinking that got up in this problem in the first place. Fortunately, I am relatively impervious to this flaw.

    And some people are willfully stupid.

    Paul Deignan (d2fd7b)

  37. rats,

    I messed up the html.

    Here we go for the clever (but now clumsy) rejoinder:

    Some people are simply educated beyond their abilities.

    And some people are willfully stupid.

    Paul Deignan (d2fd7b)

  38. Here is another subtle point that I now must be plain about:

    Tit-For-Tat is a successful gaming strategy. It should be used here (I’l let your imagination determine what “here” is here).

    Paul Deignan (d2fd7b)

  39. Been liking McCain myselk thing he’s Ok been surfin for stuff like reasons I shouldn’t or should. Found some disturbing things I didn’t know on the blogs. But if not him who? Sigh…Bummer.

    Howie (550351)

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