North Korea deal shows times have changed for bush

(Trend.

In his first term, President Bush rejected Clinton administration attempts to win North Korean cooperation with aid and declared that only after ``complete, verified, irreversible dismantlement'' of its nuclear program could the autocratic regime receive U.S. help.

But as the White House held fast to its hard-line approach, Kim Jong Il's rickety government built an estimated eight to 10 bombs, experimented with missile launches, conducted a nuclear test and seemed poised to continue the buildup with impunity.

The agreement reached Tuesday would bring Pyongyang back to the bargaining table, with pledges to freeze its primary nuclear reactor and to discuss dismantling its entire nuclear infrastructure. It was hailed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a ``breakthrough.''

But the deal also gives the impoverished regime an immediate 50,000 tons of energy assistance and other aid upfront and commits the United States to the kind of direct talks with the North Koreans that the White House had long ruled out.

The deal provoked outrage from conservative allies of the administration who said it flatly contradicted Bush's previous policy. At the same time, some former Clinton administration officials termed it a step in the right direction but questioned why it took Bush so long.

Many observers acknowledged that the White House had few choices.

``They recognized that they had to adopt a practical approach,'' said Gary Samore, a National Security Council official during the Clinton administration who is at the Council on Foreign Relations. ``They had to do something to stabilize the situation, or they would face a full-blown crisis on the Korean peninsula.''

The pending accord reached Tuesday is only a first step toward a negotiated end to North Korea's nuclear program, U.S. officials acknowledged. It calls for the regime to shut down and seal its primary nuclear facilities, at Yongbyon, and to allow the return of U.N. nuclear inspectors to verify the process. Then the North Koreans will begin a complex series of talks with the United States, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia.

If North Korea discloses all its nuclear programs, and disables all facilities, it would be entitled to additional aid including 950,000 tons of heavy fuel oil. The process also promises North Korea a chance to reach two other goals: normalized relations with the United States and removal from the U.S. list of government sponsors of terrorism.

Yet, U.S. officials acknowledge that there are numerous issues that could derail a process that has faltered again and again since 1993. ``This is the first quarter, not the fourth,'' Rice cautioned.

Some critics of the administration were quick to charge that the deal had gotten the White House back to where it was at the beginning of Bush's first term.

``This deal takes us back to the future,'' said Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Del., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. ``The good news is that it freezes in place North Korea's nuclear program. The bad news is that North Korea's program is much more dangerous to us now than it was in 2002, when President Bush rejected virtually the same deal he is now embracing.''

From a conservative perspective, Bruce Klingner of Heritage Foundation said the deal ``sends a dangerously accommodating signal not only to North Korea but also to Iran and any other aspiring nuclear-weapons state.''

Rice, defending the deal, said the United States was entering the talks in a much better position than it had during the days of the so-called ``Agreed Framework'' negotiations initiated in 1994 by the Clinton administration. Bush abandoned those talks in November 2002, amid signs that Pyongyang was carrying on a secret uranium-based bomb program.

Rice said the difference now is that the United States has greater leverage over North Korea because of the influence of the four other countries coming to the negotiating table. China, the North's primary energy source and chief trading partner, has brought pressure on Pyongyang since its nuclear test in October, U.S. officials said.

Rice also asserted that the upfront aid Pyongyang would receive for coming back to the table was ``modest'' -- only a fraction of the 2 million tons of heavy fuel oil it was demanding.

Some experts who analyzed the deal agreed.

``Fifty thousand tons is a small amount,'' said L. Gordon Flake, a longtime Korea watcher at the Mansfield Foundation in Washington. ``It's basically a face-saving gesture for the North Koreans.''

Although the deal dramatically illustrates how far the administration has come, there have been signs for some time that the United States has been open to a more flexible approach.

One such sign was in early 2005, when Rice named Christopher Hill, a veteran dealmaker who helped negotiate the Bosnia peace settlement, to be assistant secretary of State for East Asia, making him the State Department's top negotiator on North Korea.

Hill has worked with Rice and Bush on Korea, even as hard-liners, including former U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton and Robert G. Joseph, the State Department's top proliferation official, were leaving the administration. Bolton branded the agreement Tuesday a charade and said it ``contradicts fundamental premises of the president's policy.''

Last month, Hill met with North Korean officials in Berlin and began talking about a new ``bilateral'' approach, despite the administration's formal insistence that its negotiations must be through meetings of all six countries involved in the discussions.

Another sign of possible change was Bush's State of the Union address last month. Unlike previous years, in which the president berated North Korea, Bush mentioned North Korea only once, doing so to point out that his team was ``pursuing intensive diplomacy'' to eliminate nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula.

One factor in the change of the administration's approach was its desire to show Iran, another country believed to have nuclear-weapons ambitions, that there could be benefits in giving up a program, U.S. officials said.

Some analysts see the deal as the latest sign that the Bush administration has been forced to turn to compromise solutions that would have had far less appeal in its early days when it appeared it had more choices.

``This demonstrates something that we've seen overall, that, in its waning days, with its options and resources limited by Iraq, more and more it is turning to these practical policy options,'' said Samore, who is director of research for the Council on Foreign Relations. ``You see it in the Middle East, you see it in East Asia. This is a trend that will continue.''

Subscribe to Trend in Google News! Subscribe
Turkmenistan and US discuss bilateral cooperation
Turkmenistan and US discuss bilateral cooperation
Turkmen Khazar consortium announces tender for tubing repair
Turkmen Khazar consortium announces tender for tubing repair
Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan hold another meeting on "Dostlug" field
Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan hold another meeting on "Dostlug" field
Loading Bars
Latest
Uzbekistan shares data on interest expenses of banking sector for 2021
Uzbekistan shares data on regulatory capital of its banks for 2021
Kazakh president suggests to set up transport and logistics consortium with India
Trade turnover between Central Asian countries and India unveiled
Launch of Azerbaijani-Armenian border delimitation to help prevent incidents - Russian MFA
Azerbaijan launches engineering-geological studies in Aghdam Industrial Park
Azerbaijan's Anglo Asian Mining increases its stake in Canadian mining company
Turkmenistan and US discuss bilateral cooperation
Azerbaijan announces auction to privatize state enterprises, vehicles
Azerbaijani gymnast to participate in Trampoline Gymnastics World Cup in Baku
Turkmen Khazar consortium announces tender for tubing repair
Azerbaijan records increase in export of products by industrial zones
Azerbaijan to hold auction for helicopters (PHOTO)
European natural gas prices to fall this year
Armenian PM may visit Turkey
Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan hold another meeting on "Dostlug" field
Global oil market to flip into surplus in 2022
European Azerbaijan School: IELTS Registration Partnership Agreement Between British Council and Azerbaijan Teachers Development Centre was signed yesterday (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Georgia’s electricity exports skyrocket
Turkmenistan allocates loans to expand natural gas fields exploration
Azerbaijan Industry Bank’s assets down in 2021
“We became the first company in CIS region to receive ISO 37001 certificate”
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens
Azerbaijan confirms 3,361 more COVID-19 cases, 1,132 recoveries
Azerbaijan unveils volume of investments made in industrial zones
Swiss company eyes creating assembly line for trains in Georgia
Azerbaijani Muganbank's assets edge up
Poland’s Catholic Church marks Day of Islam
Georgia announces launch date for regional enterprise dev't program (Exclusive)
Azerbaijan to simplify civil UAV registration procedures
Azerbaijan, Iran holding talks on construction of Astara-Rasht railway - official
EBRD discloses results of its investments in Uzbekistan for 2021
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for January 27
Criminal case of former chief of Kazakhstan's KNB classified as "Top Secret"
Assets of Azerbaijan's Yelo Bank increase in 2021
Yapi Kredi Bank Azerbaijan ends 2021 with loss
Iran’s exports from West Azerbaijan Province increase
Demand for eSIM technology increases in Azerbaijan - deputy minister (Exclusive)
German daily COVID cases rise above 200,000, causing staff shortages
Uzbekistan’s CERR forecasts GDP growth for 2022
Kazakhstan’s modernized national security system must be ready to meet any challenges - president
SOCAR AQS, Iraqi Drilling Company ink protocol
Georgia, Azerbaijan discuss attracting tourists to South Caucasus
Azerbaijani Unibank's assets up in 2021
Iran’s POGC unveils volume of gas extracted from South Pars gas field
EIB reveals volume of investments in green transformation
Azerbaijani Finance Ministry to put up gov't bonds for new auction
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price dips
Azerbaijan discloses timeframe for providing entire country with internet
Bulgaria’s Chiren gas storage project to get funding from EU
EU calls on Azerbaijani farmers to engage in more cooperation
EU companies among largest investors in Azerbaijan – EU Programme Manager
Central Bank of Azerbaijan hold regular foreign currency auction
Iran sees surge in price of apartments in Tehran
Azerbaijan talks unauthorized use of state companies' cable networks
Azerbaijan's Ziraat Bank discloses net profit for 2021
IRICA shares data on import of COVID-19 vaccine to Iran
Uzbekistan Airways to resume flights to Turkey's Istanbul
Azerbaijan sees growth in oil prices
Joint projects - good chance for Azerbaijan, Iran to develop relations further, MP says
Azerbaijan records growth of production in industrial zones in 2021
Azerbaijan talks construction, restoration of roads in liberated areas
Russia records another 88,816 coronavirus cases — crisis center
Uzbekistan shares data on potato imports for 2021
EU shares experience with Azerbaijan in development of agritourism - official
Spirits maker Diageo posts 16% rise in first-half sales
Bank of America raises base pay for top bankers
Uzbekistan places government bonds on currency exchange
Azerbaijan unveils TV & radio coverage of liberated areas
Croatia to possibly take part in demining of Azerbaijani liberated lands
Croatian Ambassador talks impact of COVID-19 on Ionian-Adriatic Pipeline project
Georgian Ambassador to Azerbaijan visits Baku Higher Oil School (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan plays its role in global fight against anti-Semitism and support of multiculturalism - UN official
Agriculture plays key role in Azerbaijani economy's diversification - EU official
Croatia eyes to strengthen co-op with Azerbaijan in food processing industries
Uzbekistan shares data on GDP per capita
Uzbekistan starts implementation of new investment project
Spain's Sabadell reports 161 mlns Q4 net profit helped by TSB
Electrolux books $85 mln tariffs case related charge in Q4
Azerbaijan is unique Muslim country with large Jewish community - Israeli ambassador (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan's AccessBank discloses loan portfolio volume for 2021
VTB Bank Azerbaijan reveals net profit for 2021
Uzbekistan looking to increase GDP and industrial production in 2022
Deutsche Bank nearly triples Q4 profit, defying expected loss
President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva attend inauguration of newly built Training and Service Complex in Bina settlement (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Croatia provides update on Ionian-Adriatic Pipeline project
Azerbaijan registers increase in volume of loans issued to construction sector
Southern Gas Corridor fulfills both conditions of EU energy security – envoy
Vietnam, Azerbaijan agree to enhance defense ties
Uzbekistan removes restrictions on operation of gas filling stations
Iranian currency rates for January 27
Kazakhstan's oil extracting company to buy accumulators via tender
VTB Bank Azerbaijan’s assets increase in 2021
Kazakh-Chinese oil company extends tender to buy spare parts for pumps
Azerbaijani currency rates for January 27
Azerbaijan names production value of building materials for 2021
Kazakhstan records increase in export of cars
Oil falls as U.S. Fed's pending interest rate hike spooks investors
Most COVID-19 infections in Azerbaijan associated with Omicron strain - expert
Azerbaijan and Georgia play key roles within “One Belt, One Road” initiative – Hualing FIZ CEO (Interview) (VIDEO)
All news