Sunday, April 08, 2007

US Delegation Visits North Korea

Sources: Reuters, AP

A US delegation began a four-day visit to the hermitic North Korean state. Bill Richardson, a Democratic presidential candidate from New Mexico (also current NM governor and former US ambassador to the United Nations), leads the Bush administration-endorsed visit. This visit coincides with the impending deadline in the recent nuclear disarmament agreement. This delegation was sent in the hopes of improving the US-North Korea relationship, as protocol is considered very important in North Korea. NK likes to be viewed as a major power, and the visit, which includes a former ambassador, former veterans affairs secretary, and other top advisors could go a long way in improving US-NK relations. This trip, however, is not officially part of the six-way talks, but Richardson has requested a meeting with Kim Jong-il. The visit will also oversee the transfer of the remains of US soldiers who died in the Korean War.

An agreement was reached on February 13th, in the hopes to achieve NK disarmament, but the agreement has been put to the test due to the delayed money transfer from frozen funds based in Macau (although, on Friday, the State Department announced that the obstacles holding up the money transfers have been resolved, clearing the way for the transfer). There is worry that NK will not shut down its main nuclear reactor by the April 14 deadline as a response to the non-release of frozen money. This week, furthermore, North Korean leaders have made statements, which question whether NK is truly genuine about shutting down its nuclear reactors.

Question: What additional steps, short of war, are possible to ensure NK disarms?

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