19 March 2007

Washington Takes a Page from North Korean Playbook

The release of North Korea’s funds from Banco Delta Asia (Macao) by the U.S. Treasury Department has smoothed the continuation of the six party talks process. Responses internationally to the decision to let North Korea reclaim the $24 million have been mixed, with plenty of complaints that the United States gave in and had to “pay” North Korea for the continued talks.

But instead, the United States paid North Korea nothing. In fact, it turned North Korea’s tactics around and applied them TO Pyongyang. Washington froze North Korea’s access to its money. It then withheld that money, until North Korea finally agreed to talk and take other steps (like agreeing to IAEA visits and planning to shut Yongbyon). Then Washington gave back to North Korea what was already North Korea’s.

Pyongyang has used a similar tactic over and over again. It creates a new crisis, and demands concessions to return to the status quo. Pyongyang has now been paid back in kind, with Washington creating a “crisis” for North Korea, and demanding compensation to return to the status quo.

Just desserts all around.

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