Yup, I know it’s a cliche but the devil is in the details and it will be interesting to learn what those details are, once disclosed. Chris Nelson helps to fill in some of the gaps:
The deal will apparently call for the DPRK to stop current activity at the entire Yongbyon nuclear complex, all 5 facilities, and readmit IAEA inspectors within 60 days…but not before the US Treasury has released whatever percentage of the Macao bank money is deemed ”œlicit”. That step will be promised within 30 days.
More after the jump.
US hard liners will not like the appearance of who moved first, if this rumor proves accurate.
On the critical ”œbottom line” issue…what to about the DPRK nuclear facilities, and the DPRK nuclear weapons…one of the reported 5 Working Groups (Nelson Report, Feb. 9) will seek to get at the actual bomb or bombs, and fissile material now on hand from the 8,000 fuel rods previously under IAEA safeguards.
So the first step will apparently cover facilities only. Thus, it appears to be a cup half full, or a cup half empty, and will likely be the most difficult ”œsell” for Hill, and the Administration, to both supporters and critics, especially given past US complaints that DPRK reps to working groups lack negotiating authority.
It remains to be seen how the new Joint Declaration handles the issue of defining N. Korea’s nuclear program, and the renewed commitment to ”œdenuclearization”. From the US perspective, some level of ”œconfession” of the secret HEU program would seem to be required, for example. To date, Pyongyang has consistently said the US is simply incorrect in this charge.
For bargaining purposes, then, critics are already saying the deal gives Pyongyang its major negotiating goal all along…it splits off the weapons from the weapons program. So this is the ”œhalf empty” part.
The half-full part, if what we’re told is correct: the first set of phased actions and inducements will cover an immediate shut down…call it a ”œfreeze” if you want…of all of the 5 Yongbyon facilities, to the extent that any beside the 5MW reactor are still functional.
Over the weekend, news leaks said the hold-up was squabbling over how much energy assistance the DPRK would receive, and presumably which of the 5 would have the honor of supplying and paying for it. This has never been a popular feature on Capitol Hill.
The most interesting paragraph of Nelson’s report tonight? This one:
As has been the case for the past month, this is all being handled by Hill to Rice to President Bush ”” there is no paper being passed around. But it sounds as though many of the rumors and leaks of the past few weeks are basically accurate, including that there was a paper produced by Hill and the DPRK’s Kim Gae-gwan in Berlin, and that memo formed the basis of the ”œChina draft” which has been haggled over all weekend.
Yes, you read that correctly. Absolutely no paper trail. Why? Two words: Dick Cheney.
He really must be that malignant an influence on our foreign policy.
Regardless, if they close the deal, credit where credit is due, even if it is six years too late.
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