Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Not all is quiet at the DPRK front.

On the surface; it seems that the world once again “doing nothing” in response to the latest “satellite launch” carried on the Taepondong 2 Missile. However, the level of diplomatic activities surrounding this launch conducted by China and other 4 members of the six-party talks increased dramatically to a new level, maybe there is a silverlining.

On Feb 28th, China stated it “would Sanction DKPR in case of missile launch”

On March 1st
China, Japan play down islands row, warn NKorea


Seoul China to coordinate N.K. response

On March 4th

China, US opposed to NKorean missile launch: envoy

On March 23rd
China, Japan, South Korean Envoys to Discuss North Korea Launch

And now, McCain is in Beijing to talk about it.
““We expressed the need for an international commitment to take some strong action against North Korea, including the possibility of sanctions at the United Nations,” McCain told reporters in Beijing today after meeting Defense Minister Liang Guanglie and Wu Bangguo, chairman of China’s legislature. “I hope China can join us.” (Here)

While China has failed to prevent a DPRK launch, it has been very open in dealing with it compared to the previous Taepondong launches. This might signal a more open and aggressive stand against nuclear proliferation in North Asia. From China’s perspective, its national interest will not be served if it does nothing and allow Japan to use DPRK’s launch as the “by-line” to bypass Article 9. At the same time, if China pushes DPRK too hard on the economic front, China could have millions of refugees on its hands: a prospect China does not want to see.

Today, US and China have their own interest in seeing DPRK under control but that was not enough to muster enough votes for the passage of a new UN resolution last Sunday or actually impose the 1718 resolution already in the book. Therefore, the high level of diplomacy of the last two months should only be considered positive if it leads to a regional summit to address not just the proliferation but the bigger issues of strategy security framework of North Asia (ROK-Japan Island dispute, Russian-Japan Island dispute, Sino-Japan Island dispute, Sino-Japan Gas Field dispute, just to name a few). With a long term framework in place, finding a strategy to deal with the North Korean nuclear threat will be an easier task.

This regional summit is not wishful thinking as the current economic downturn has created an environment for the first ever Tripartite summit in Fukuoka where Japan, ROK and China formulated the Chiang Mai Initiative on currency swaps to stabilize the region’s economy.

On an unrelated news: Makes you wonder what part of DPRK is red and which is blue.

North Korea parliament renews Kim's leadership
Thu Apr 9, 2009 12:38am EDT

By Jack Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea re-elected leader Kim Jong-il as its supreme military leader at its newly elected parliament on Thursday, marking his return to center stage as the country celebrates what it calls a triumphant satellite launch.

The move came as the U.N. Security Council failed to agree on an action in response to Sunday's launch, widely seen as a disguised missile test, prompting U.S. Senator John McCain to press China, the North's key ally, to get tough on its reclusive communist neighbor.

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