Misplaying North Korea and Losing Friends and Influence in Northeast Asia
Published on: Jul 12, 2005

Leon V. Sigal is director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council in New York. He was a member of the editorial board of The New York Times from 1989 to 1995. He served in the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, in 1979 as International Affairs Fellow and in 1980 as Special Assistant to the Director. From 1974 to 1989 he was a professor of government at Wesleyan University. He was an adjunct professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs from 1985 to 1989 and from 1996 to 2000 and a visiting lecturer at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School in 1988 and 2000. He was a Rockefeller Younger Scholar in Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution in 1972-1974 and a guest scholar there in 1981-1984. His book, Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea, published by Princeton University Press, was one of five nominees for the Lionel Gelber Prize as the most outstanding book in international relations for 1997-98 and was named the 1998 book of distinction by the American Academy of Diplomacy. Among his other books are Hang Separately: Cooperative Security Between the United States and Russia, 1985-1994; Fighting to a Finish: The Politics of War Termination in the United States and Japan, 1945; Alliance Security: NATO and the No-First-Use Question (with John Steinbruner); Nuclear Forces in Europe: Enduring Dilemmas, Present Prospects; and Reporters and Officials: The Organization and Politics of Newsmaking.

"We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out."—a senior adviser to President Bush1

For the past four years, the Bush administration has watched North Korea arm without trying what South Korea and Japan think just might get it to stop: diplomatic give-and-take.

Most hard-liners in the administration think that would be like making a pact with the devil, which is anathema to them. As unilateralists, they could not care less what allies think. Others take it on faith that North Korea is determined to arm, not deal, and believe that a nuclear-arming Pyongyang will drive Seoul and Tokyo further into Washington's embrace.

The administration insists that six-party talks are further isolating North Korea and that pressure by China and others will bring it to heel. Many Asians, however, see a negotiated solution as desirable and possible. The administration's uncompromising stance has led some in Seoul and Tokyo to wonder whether they can rely on Washington for their security. That doubt threatens to unravel U.S. alliances in Northeast Asia.

Administration officials have fanned fears about the possibility of Japan going nuclear in a vain effort to sway China to pressure North Korea.2 Critics of the administration also warn that North Korea's serial production of nuclear weapons could trigger an arms race in Northeast Asia unless Washington negotiates in earnest. Yet the political consequences of misplaying the North Korean crisis could be more far-reaching and damaging to U.S. security than the destabilizing impact of a nuclear-armed North Korea on the regional balance of power.

U.S. hard-liners would rather pick a fight with China than negotiate with North Korea. They see Beijing's unwillingness to pressure Pyongyang as a litmus test of its intentions. Those in the administration who prefer accommodation with China think Beijing's pique at Pyongyang will lead it to adopt a policy of pressure. China may be unhappy about nuclear-arming by the North, but under what circumstances it would threaten a cutoff of food and oil supplies and jeopardize the regime's survival is unclear. After all, Beijing has been the chief beneficiary of the administration's unwillingness to deal.

South Korea's refusal to ratchet up pressure on Pyongyang is dismissed by some in the Bush administration as the handiwork of left-leaning former dissidents in the Roh Moo-hyun government—what can you expect, they say, from people who once were the "disloyal opposition." Others see it as just a passing political phase in Seoul. The first group is disposed to disdain allies; the second group keeps reassuring itself that the alliance is still strong and hoping the conservatives will soon return to power in Seoul. Both disregard the growing misgivings among most South Koreans that Washington, by refusing to try deal-making with Pyongyang, stands in the way of North-South reconciliation.

Administration officials profess to be heartened by Japan's willingness to toughen its stance toward the North and to take other steps to strengthen its alliance with the United States, citing its funding for missile defense, its dispatch of troops to Iraq, and its commitment to Taiwan. They mistake Japan's display of loyalty for fealty. The government of Koizumi Junichiro cannot survive an open breach with China over the Korean Peninsula. By embracing Bush, Koizumi is hoping to coax him away from confrontation.

Far from isolating the North, the United States is itself becoming odd man out in the region, dissipating political support for pressuring Pyongyang and enhancing China's influence. This is evident from the reactions to Bush’s rebuff of Kim Dae-jung in March 2001, the administration’s North Korea policy statement of June 2001 and initial refusal to talk to the North, Bush’s "axis of evil" speech, the administration’s decision to confront the North over uranium enrichment in June 2002, its war on Iraq, and its resistance to diplomatic give-and-take even after entering six-party talks.

Bush’s Rebuff to Kim Dae-jung

At the outset, the Bush administration's stance toward North Korea was as simple as ABC—anything but Clinton. Assailed by the Republican-controlled Congress for appeasement, Clinton shrank from implementing the 1994 Agreed Framework—only to have North Korea seek the means to enrich uranium in 1998. Hard-liners took that as conclusive evidence, if they needed any, that North Korea was hellbent on nuclear-arming and would not keep any deal that it made. Others were not so sure. They thought it was a response to U.S. failure to live up to its obligations under the 1994 accord and a bargaining ploy to get Washington to do so—or arm if it did not.

In a 1999 turnabout, Clinton embraced Kim Dae-jung's strategy of engagement in order to induce change in the North. As former secretary of defense William Perry concluded in his policy review, "The urgent focus of U.S. policy toward the D.P.R.K. must be to end its nuclear weapons and long-range missile-related activities." The way to do that, he said, was to try cooperation: "in step-by-step and reciprocal fashion, move to reduce pressures on North Korea that it perceives as threatening."3 In Pyongyang in May 1999, Perry put the United States and North Korea back on the road to reconciliation by affirming that Washington was at last ready to negotiate in earnest and make good on its promises. His initiative paid off that September when Pyongyang agreed to suspend test launching of its longer-range ballistic missiles while talks proceeded. In return, Washington promised to ease sanctions imposed under the Trading with the Enemy Act. At a meeting in Berlin in January 2000, in anticipation of high-level talks in Washington proposed by Perry, U.S. officials gave North Korea a draft joint communiqué pledging an end to enmity. Washington's readiness to cooperate helped pave the way to the North-South summit meeting in June 2000. In the course of that summit, Kim Jong-il came close to accepting a continued U.S. military presence on the peninsula. Afterward, the administration at last issued regulations lifting sanctions under the Trading with the Enemy Act. That prompted Kim Jong-il to send his second in command, Vice Marshal Jo Myong-nok, to Washington. A joint communiqué made public on October 12, 2000 pledged that "neither government would have hostile intent toward the other." 4

On October 23, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright became the first American official ever to meet with Kim Jong-il. In the course of their talks, he agreed to end exports of all missile technology, including existing contracts, and to freeze testing, production, and deployment of all missiles with a range over 500 kilometers. That arguably would cover the No-dong, Taepo-dong I and II, and SCUD-C, but not the SCUD-B.

With his plutonium program frozen, his longer-range missile program on the negotiating table, and his stated willingness to tolerate the presence of U.S. troops in Korea, Kim Jong-il had put a lot at stake in seeking an end to enmity with Washington. Yet the incoming Bush administration was quick to repudiate the U.S. pledge of no hostile intent.

In so doing, it provoked an open breach with Kim Dae-jung. When the South Korean president came to Washington in March 2001, the Bush administration publicly renounced engagement and privately discouraged him from concluding a peace agreement with Pyongyang or offering it electricity, a potential quid pro quo for Kim Jong-il's return visit to Seoul that spring. The radical shift in U.S. stance prompted North Korea to call off the visit.5

The Bush administration was recasting the United States in the role of spoiler of North-South reconciliation. North Korea, which had been the cement of the U.S. alliance with South Korea, now became the catalyst for its unraveling. To hard-liners in the administration, North Korea was a rogue state. A rogue is a criminal and the way to treat criminals is to punish them, not make deals. A majority of South Koreans, however, favored engagement and reduced tensions. To them, the North Koreans looked less and less like rogues and more and more like kin in desperate need of charity.

The administration's abrupt U-turn had an immediate impact on South Korean politics. Kim Dae-jung's conservative opponents were heartened, but most Koreans took the cavalier treatment of their president as an affront to the nation's dignity.

The administration's high-handedness could not have come at a less opportune time. After a century in which Korea was more acted upon than actor on the world stage, the South had risen from the ashes of war to grow into the world's eleventh largest economy. Less than two decades after throwing off the shackles of dictatorship, South Korea was now a thriving democracy with a well-educated and politically attentive populace and rates of press readership and internet usage that surpassed that of the United States. National self-confidence and assertiveness were on the rise as a new generation of Koreans who had not suffered through deprivation, occupation, war, and dictatorship rejected their elders' deference to and dependency on outsiders.

Japan's political course was also unsettled. Before the 2000 U.S. election, soon-to-be Bush aides Richard Armitage and Michael Green had talked about turning Japan into "the Britain of the Far East." In Green's words, "We see the special relationship between the United States and Great Britain as a model for the alliance." 6 Convinced that pro-American forces were in the ascendancy in Tokyo, they envisioned Japan as an obedient U.S. ally—not a confidante like Britain that stands shoulder-to-shoulder in public while pressing its own views in private, nor a friendly rival like France that uses NATO as a shield for pursuing its own independent foreign policy, and certainly not a partner that uses the alliance as cover to "re-enter Asia" or to build up its own military might before breaking with the United States altogether.

While Bush administration officials believe that tensions with Pyongyang and Beijing will compel Tokyo to close ranks, experienced Japan hands like Rust Deming question that rosy scenario. "Emerging policy will likely emphasize expanding Japan's capacity for a more autonomous defense, as well as the wherewithal to participate fully in internationally sanctioned operations," says Deming. Far from strengthening pro-American figures like Koizumi, Bush administration policy toward North Korea may be undercutting them. "Perceived American missteps with respect to a provocation on the Korean Peninsula," he warns, "could give further ammunition to both the Japanese left and right advocating more independence from the United States." 7

Japanese policy circles roughly fall into five schools of thought. Americanists, like Aso Taro, former prime minister Hashimoto Ryutaro, or Okazaki Hisahiko, want to bind Japan more tightly to the United States, partly to hedge against China but mostly to block alternative courses. Americanists are a force in the Foreign Ministry and dominate the Japan Defense Agency, which can be counted on to support almost anything the Pentagon wants.

Americanists have allies of sorts among a second school, internationalists who want Japan to be freer to engage more actively in collective security under a U.N. mandate. Internationalists are found in the Liberal Democratic Party and in opposition parties in the Diet—Ozawa Ichiro is a prominent example—as well as in the Foreign Ministry, where serving as ambassador to the United Nations, not Washington, is the path for promotion to the top job in the foreign service, permanent under secretary.

Among the Americanists' rivals are Asia-firsters who view Japan's future tied to Asia economically and politically and who favor development of multilateral institutions in the region to bind a rising China into a web of cooperation. Asia-firsters see Japan in a triangular relationship with the United States and China. While not rejecting close bilateral ties with Washington, they want better relations with Beijing as well and they worry that U.S. aggressiveness on North Korea or Taiwan could entrap Japan in unwanted confrontation with China. "Japan should not be partial to the United States," Kono Yohei, speaker of the lower house, said in April 2004, but "needs to discuss matters more thoroughly with its Asian neighbors and make diplomatic efforts to settle problems. I'm not sure the country really made enough effort to do that." 8

A fourth school, the Gaullists, distrust U.S. reliability and judgment. They exploit U.S. demands to do more in order to enhance Japan's capacity for independent political and military action. Abe Shinzo and Ishaba Shigeru reflect the Gaullist viewpoint.

To their right is a fifth school, neo-nationalists like Tokyo's governor Ishihara Shintaro as well as many younger politicians and bureaucrats who want Japan to look after its own security, unbound by the alliance with the United States, and who favor scrapping the constitution as a symbol of U.S. domination imposed on a defeated Japan after the war.

Koizumi, an Americanist, publicly embraced Bush, committing yen and troops to an unpopular war in Iraq, suppressing technical and political doubts to cooperate on missile defense, and tightening the integration of Japanese and U.S. armed forces. His display of loyalty had a purpose, however: to deflect Washington from open confrontation with Pyongyang or Beijing that would cause a fatal breach in his party and his government. If Koizumi's balancing act fails, the ultimate beneficiaries of U.S. policy toward North Korea may not be those who would bind Japan more tightly to the United States but Asia-firsters and nationalists who want to loosen those ties.

The North Korea Policy Review

Internal differences slowed the Bush administration's initial review of North Korea policy, but it finally "cobbled together" a statement of policy in preparation for consultations with Seoul in June 2001. Before the consultations could be held, however, hard-liners disclosed the policy to the press.9 It sought "improved implementation" of the Agreed Framework, which, in effect, unilaterally reinterpreted it to require prompt nuclear inspections without offering anything in return. It also wanted "a less threatening conventional military posture" in the North. Given its military inferiority, Pyongyang cannot do that without reciprocal steps by Seoul and Washington.10 Above all, it refused to reaffirm the U.S. pledge of no "hostile intent." It also decided that progress on any issue would depend on progress on all other issues, which all but assured no progress across the board.

American visitors had just heard a North Korean official repeat what Secretary of State Albright had been told in October 2000—that there was no reason for the two countries to remain eternal enemies. The administration's June 6 public announcement of policy came out of the blue and without having first informed North Korea, leaving the impression that Washington was making new demands on Pyongyang. In response, on June 18, 2001 a Foreign Ministry spokesman called on Washington to implement "the provisions of the D.P.R.K.-U.S. Agreed Framework and the D.P.R.K.-U.S. joint communiqué as agreed upon." Pyongyang followed up on June 28 by reiterating a proposal it had made in March 2000, linking the U.S. demand for nuclear inspections with its own demand for electricity, which it saw as compensation for the delay in providing nuclear reactors promised under the Agreed Framework. At the same time, however, it warned, "If no measure is taken for the compensation for the loss of electricity, the D.P.R.K. can no longer keep its nuclear activities in a state of freeze and implement the Agreed Framework." 11

Briefed at the outset that the North was acquiring the means to enrich uranium, the administration made no attempt whatsoever to enter into negotiations. Instead, it disclosed a nuclear posture review listing North Korea as a target for attack and calling for new warheads to strike hard and deeply buried targets.12 North Korea, meanwhile, stepped up acquisition of enrichment equipment from Pakistan.

By impeding a cooperative solution, hard-line unilateralists in the administration put Washington on a collision course not just with Pyongyang, but more importantly with Seoul and Tokyo. They eroded political support in South Korea and Japan for the alliance, jeopardizing the U.S. troop presence in the region.

Their intransigence became the catalyst for unprecedented cooperation in Northeast Asia to corral the United States. The Japan-Russia and Japan-D.P.R.K. summit meetings should be seen in this light. So should South Korea's warming with China. Given the history of antagonism in the region, such cooperation would have seemed unthinkable just a few short years ago.

A fundamental change in course by North Korea helped open the way. In fall 2001, Pyongyang began firming up plans for sweeping economic reforms. Those reforms could not fully revive North Korea's moribund economy without a political accommodation with the United States, South Korea, and Japan that would facilitate its reallocation of scarce resources from military use and investment and aid from outside.

North Korea changed diplomatic strategy as well. Convinced it was getting nowhere with Washington, Pyongyang resumed ministerial-level talks with South Korea in September 2001. In secret talks in Beijing about the same time, it began tiptoeing toward a resumption of normalization talks with Japan as well. This marked an important shift for Pyongyang, which had engaged in serious diplomacy with Seoul and Tokyo throughout the 1990s only when it was convinced that Washington was cooperating with it. It had finally concluded that the path to reconciliation with Washington ran through Seoul and Tokyo. At the same time, it was reducing the risk of renewed confrontation with Washington.

Pyongyang's new strategy was correctly interpreted in Tokyo, especially by Asianists in the Foreign Ministry. "The current Bush administration is unlikely to make any compromises with North Korea," Hiramatsu Kenji, director of the Northeast Asia Division, wrote in his inside account of Japanese policy. "With Washington applying the brakes to its dialogue with Pyongyang, it is very difficult for Japan to go the road alone. On the other hand, the fact that the United States, an ally of Japan, is taking a tough stance can be used as leverage to resolve outstanding problems between Japan and North Korea. It seems likely that Pyongyang wants improved relations with Washington. Thus, if Japan were to promote dialogue between North Korea and the United States, then improved relations with Japan would be in North Korea's own security interests." 13

Pyongyang's new strategy was also understood in Seoul, where family reunions, economic cooperation, and other forms of engagement were burgeoning, even while hopes were fading for a return summit meeting with Kim Jong-il. "North Korea-U.S. relations have a functional relationship with South Korea-North Korea relations," Kim Dae-jung told a nationally televised press conference on January 14, 2002. "Dialogue on one side is not enough." The North is "eager" for talks, he noted, but "to reopen talks with North Korea, I think the United States needs to assume a posture that will save face for the North." 14

'Axis of Evil'

President Bush went out of his way to avoid any face-saving. Instead, referring to North Korea in his January 29, 2002 State of the Union address, he said, "States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world."

What began as the purple prose of speechwriters soon became administration policy—and not just toward Iraq. At the Conference on Disarmament on January 24, 2002, citing Iraq and North Korea by name, Under Secretary of State John Bolton had said, "those who think that they can pursue nuclear weapons without detection: the United States will prove you wrong." The United States, he warned, will meet the threat of proliferation "with every method at our disposal." 15 On May 6, Bolton was more specific, accusing North Korea and Iraq of having "covert nuclear weapons programs, in violation of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty." 16 On June 1, President Bush announced a new doctrine of waging preventive war—without allies, without U.N. sanction, in violation of international law. "We cannot put our faith in the word of tyrants who solemnly sign nonproliferation treaties, and then systematically break them," he declared. "We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge." 17 On December 16, 2002, he would formally approve an order targeting North Korea, National Security Presidential Directive 23.18

In Pyongyang, a Foreign Ministry spokesman denounced Bush’s State of the Union address as "little short of declaring a war against the D.P.R.K.," but a week later at the United Nations, the North's ambassador Pak Gil Yong offered a ceasefire: "Nice words will be answered by nice words." 19 On April 6, 2002, Lim Dong-won, Kim Dae-jung's closest aide, back from five hours of talks with Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang, reported the North Korean leader had "expressed willingness to open dialogue with the United States and will accept a U.S. envoy's visit to the North." 20 A Foreign Ministry spokesman soon qualified that willingness, saying "conditions" for talks were not yet right but they could resume "if it is the true intention of the U.S. to respect its dialogue partner and let it have the dialogue on an equal footing"—by removing it from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.21

If the North did not make much of its inclusion in the "axis of evil" at the time, the South recoiled. The phrase crystallized the impression of most South Koreans—73% in one Munwha Ilbo survey—that President Bush's stance had made the United States a major impediment to North-South reconciliation. That impression would harden over time, especially among younger Koreans. In a dramatic display of South Korean alienation from the United States, the public mishandling of a June 13 accident in which a U.S. armored vehicle killed two Korean schoolgirls sparked a massive candlelight vigil in Seoul.

The "axis of evil" shock wave also roiled the race for president. Opposition leader Lee Hoi-chang, ahead in the polls, was walking a tightrope on North Korea, criticizing the sunshine policy for failing to "deliver the real change that we want from North Korea: a reduction of the threat of war," and conditioning engagement on "reciprocity" and "transparency." 22 On a January 24-28, 2002 visit to Washington, Lee fell off that tightrope. He was outspokenly critical of the sunshine policy, saying it had "increased a sense of unrest among our people and negatively affected our economy." 23 Lee's staff went out of its way to hint that Vice President Dick Cheney "shared" his approach to the North.24 The "axis of evil" speech, coming on the heels of his visit to Washington, led to a drop in Lee's popularity and disarray in opposition ranks.25 After castigating Lee, Pyongyang invited a rival conservative, Park Geun-hye, to see Kim Jong-il in May 2002. Roh Moo-hyun would capitalize on Lee's ill-timed embrace of Bush policy to win the December 2002 election with a near-majority of votes cast—far more than previous presidential candidates on the center-left. Lee's defeat called into question the wisdom of running for president on a platform that did not endorse engagement with the North.26

A February 2002 trip by President Bush offered an opportunity for damage control in Seoul. In symbolic support of reconciliation, he visited newly constructed Dorasan station just south of the DMZ on a railway line that would reconnect the North and South. In a joint press conference with Kim Dae-jung, he said the United States had "no intention of invading North Korea," but his rhetoric was not all that reassuring. After paying lip service to the sunshine policy, he noted, "In order to make sure there's sunshine, there needs to be two people, two sides involved." He went on to call the regime "despotic," adding, "I will not change my opinion on Kim Jong-il until he frees his people." 27

Japan's reaction to the "axis of evil" statement was, if anything, more dramatic than South Korea's. On February 14, 2002, after North Korea released a Japanese journalist it had accused of spying, chief cabinet secretary Fukuda Yasuo told reporters, "It will be terrific if this leads to a resumption of Japan-North Korea talks." 28 Four days later, President Bush held a summit meeting with Prime Minister Koizumi. At a press conference afterward with Bush at his side, Koizumi declared that Japan "would like to work on normalization of relations with North Korea." 29 In talks on April 29-30, the North agreed to conduct a comprehensive search for missing Japanese it was suspected of abducting in the 1970s and 1980s, which Hiramatsu Kenji, director of the Foreign Ministry's Northeast Asia Division called "a stepping-stone for the next stage of relations with North Korea." 30

Washington Balks at Talks

Although the Bush administration had long claimed it would meet North Korea "anytime, anywhere," Pyongyang's willingness to resume talks, conveyed to Lim Dong-won in early April, took it by surprise. Hard-liners preferred to temporize rather than to talk, but on April 30, 2002, the administration offered the North dates for resumption. Its unresolved struggle over a negotiating position, however, led it to seek a postponement.

Enjoined from prolonged diplomatic give-and-take, officials had begun confecting a take-it-or-leave-it proposal in 2001 that became known as the "bold approach." Its boldness consisted of requiring North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program and to enter into talks on other issues of concern before the United States would even consider reciprocating. Secretary of State Colin Powell enumerated those issues in a June 10 address to the Asia Society: North Korea "must get out of the proliferation business and eliminate long-range missiles that threaten other countries," it "must make a much more serious effort to provide for its suffering citizens," it "needs to move toward a less threatening conventional military posture," and it "must come into full compliance with the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards." 31 Only then would Washington "consider" reciprocal steps. Those steps included replacing the light-water nuclear reactors promised under the Agreed Framework with "thermal power plants capable of generating the same volume of electricity" (2,000 megawatts) along with hydropower plants and high-voltage transmission lines, aid for building roads and bridges, and support for admitting North Korea into the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. Washington would also begin negotiations to replace the Korean War armistice agreement with a peace treaty, "remove North Korea from its list of nations known to sponsor terrorism," and offer "humanitarian assistance in the form of food aid and the construction of hospitals and schools." 32 With few of the details and none of the linkages spelled out, the approach was more vague than bold.

Over lunch in New York on June 13, 2002, U.S. special envoy Jack Pritchard gave D.P.R.K. Ambassador Li Gun a letter from Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly inviting talks. Kelly previewed the "bold approach" for Japan and South Korea at a meeting of the Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group on June 17-18 in San Francisco. Pritchard did the same with North Korea's U.N. ambassador in New York on June 27.

The July 10 date for talks was not yet confirmed on June 29 when a deadly naval clash took place in South Korean waters of the West Sea. Two North Korean patrol boats approached South Korean fishing boats that had been crabbing north of the disputed northern limit line. Challenged by eight South Korean naval vessels and rammed by one, they opened fire and sank a speedboat, leaving five dead and 19 wounded. The South Koreans returned fire, disabling one North Korean craft and causing an unknown number of casualties.33 The North, acting as if nothing untoward had happened, congratulated the South a day later on its World Cup soccer performance. Four days later it reassured Seoul it would "smoothly promote dialogue and cooperation." 34 In a telephone call to Panmunjom on July 25, the North said it "regretted the unexpected armed clash" and asked for cabinet-level talks with the South.35 Those talks soon led to the start of construction to restore rail and road links across the DMZ, another reunion of divided families, and military-to-military talks on confidence-building measures.

Perhaps most significant of all, on July 1, Pyongyang had announced far-reaching economic reforms that freed some prices and gave considerable leeway to markets and private farming.

None of that kept hard-liners in the Bush administration from seizing on the June 29 naval clash to postpone talks despite entreaties from Seoul to reschedule them. Even after Secretary of State Powell, acting on his own, arranged a "chance meeting" with Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sun at the ASEAN Forum in Brunei on July 31, 2002, the highest-level contact with Pyongyang since the administration had taken office, Washington did not offer to set a date for talks.

In the interim, hard-liners exploited a new U.S. intelligence estimate to change the administration's approach from bold to provocative. According to the new estimate completed that June, North Korea had acquired gas centrifuge designs, components, and working models along with designs for a uranium weapon and test data from Pakistan.36 The North, it assessed, was constructing a plant capable of enriching enough weapons-grade uranium for two or more weapons per year when it became operational—by the end of the decade. Instead of resuming diplomatic give-and-take, the hard-liners were now pressing the president to tear up the Agreed Framework and confront North Korea over enrichment.

Confronting the North over Enrichment

After Washington had spurned talks, Tokyo tired of waiting. On August 27, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage met with Prime Minister Koizumi to inform him of the new assessment. That North Korea had an enrichment program was not news to Japan, but Koizumi did have news for Armitage. The prime minister gave him three days' notice of his announcement that he would hold a summit meeting with Kim Jong-il on September 17, 2002.37

For Japan to act on its own was unprecedented. Throughout the cold war, it had deferred to the United States on security. Koizumi's declaration of independence came as a shock to Armitage and other administration officials who regarded Japan as the "linchpin" of America's alliances in Asia.

In stark contrast to Koizumi's August 30 announcement of his summit meeting with Kim Jong-il, Under Secretary of State Bolton delivered what an administration official characterized as a "bellicose and threatening" speech the previous day in Seoul.38 Reviving "axis of evil," a phrase that had fallen into official disuse, Bolton called it "more than a rhetorical flourish—it was factually correct." North Korea, he said, had "an active program" to make chemical weapons, "one of the most robust offensive bioweapons programs on earth," and continues "attempts to procure technology worldwide that could have application in its nuclear program." Demanding that the North "let the I.A.E.A. [International Atomic Energy Agency] do its job," he expressed "doubt that North Korea ever intends to comply with its N.P.T. [Nonproliferation Treaty] obligations." That was not all. North Korea, he said, "needs to fundamentally shift the way it operates at home and abroad." Sounding like a call for regime change, he added, "Economic and political transformation are vital." 39

Bolton's speech was public manifestation of an intensifying internal struggle over how to react to the allies' engagement of Pyongyang. U.S. hard-liners had run into strenuous allied objections when they tried to declare North Korea in breach of its obligations under the 1994 Agreed Framework and to scrap the replacement reactor project. Instead, with last-minute approval from Secretary of State Powell, U.S. envoy Jack Pritchard had attended the ceremonial pouring of concrete for the first of the two nuclear reactors on August 7 in Kumho, North Korea.

On the eve of his September 17 summit with Koizumi in Pyongyang, Kim Jong-il declared in a written response to questions from Kyodo news service that the time had come to "liquidate the past." 40 At the summit, in a gesture that stunned the Japanese, he admitted North Korea was responsible for thirteen abductions. "Elements within a special agency of state," he said, had been "carried away by fanaticism and desire for glory." He said he had "disciplined" those responsible for these "very loathsome" acts, according to Japanese officials. "I want to sincerely express my apology for the regrettable acts. I will never allow it to happen again." 41 Koizumi, in turn, echoed Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi's 1995 apology for Japan's colonial rule: "Japan humbly recognizes the historical fact that it caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of Korea and expresses feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology." 42

In a joint summit communiqué signed by Kim Jong-il himself, security topped the agenda. "In step with the normalization of their relations," Japan and the D.P.R.K. would discuss not only "issues relating to security" but also "underscore the importance of building a structure of cooperative relations" in Northeast Asia, and, in a joint signal to Washington on Korea, "promote dialogue among the countries concerned as regards all security matters including nuclear and missile issues." The D.P.R.K. pledged to extend its moratorium on missile test launches "beyond 2003." Talks on normalization would proceed in tandem with talks on security. Economic assistance will be addressed in normalization talks, "including grants in aid, low-interest, long-term loans and humanitarian aid through international organizations" and "loans and credits through the International Cooperation Bank of Japan."

In a telephone conversation shortly after his return home, Prime Minister Koizumi urged President Bush to "open a road to dialogue" with North Korea. 43 Koizumi revealed the exchange in a nationally televised interview a day later.

To the surprise and dismay of the Asianists in the Foreign Ministry who had arranged the summit, both pro- and anti-American opponents of normalization would seize on the reported deaths of eight of the abductees to try to block normalization talks. It was an odd turn of events. In the late 1990s, when the United States and South Korea were on their way to rapprochement with North Korea and Japan-D.P.R.K. talks were at a standstill, Japan had played up the abduction issue to justify the inertia.

Despite intense, at times inflammatory press coverage of the abduction issue, a Kyodo poll found 86% of Japanese viewed the summit positively. Support for the Koizumi government also rose sharply.44 On October 24, 2002, after five surviving abductees—but not their spouses or six children—had arrived in Japan, the government, bowing to public pressure, refused to return them to North Korea.45

American hard-liners did their best to impede rapprochement between Japan and the D.P.R.K., but others advising the president knew that Tokyo was trying to get Washington to talk to Pyongyang and that failure to talk could put the U.S. military presence in play in Japanese politics by alienating backers of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty and strengthening the hand of neo-nationalists like Ishihara who insist "Japan can say no" to the United States.

Concern that the hard-liners' intransigence was jeopardizing American alliances in Asia at last led the Bush administration to hold its first substantive high-level talks with North Korea, but it was in no mood to negotiate. On October 3-5, 2002 in Pyongyang, Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly confronted the North over its efforts to acquire the means to enrich uranium. Hard-liners later treated the meeting like a game of "gotcha," claiming Kang Sok-ju "admitted" North Korea had a program. Instead, Kang had offered to give it up. He asked the United States in turn to "respect the D.P.R.K.'s sovereignty" (forswear any attempt to overthrow its government), "assure it of nonaggression" and "not hinder its economic development." 46 "They did suggest," said Kelly, "that there were measures that might be taken that were generally along those lines." 47 Failing to anticipate that the North might acknowledge the enrichment program, Kelly abruptly ended the talks without laying out the bold approach. Prepared for diplomatic give-and-take, the North Koreans were taken aback. Their reaction was vitriolic: "The special envoy . . . took a high-handed and arrogant attitude by claiming that D.P.R.K.-Japan relations and inter-Korean relations as well as D.P.R.K.-U.S. relations would be smoothly settled only when the D.P.R.K. first meets the U.S. unilateral demand [on issues] such as nuclear and missile and conventional armed forces and 'human rights.' The U.S.-raised 'issues of concern' are nothing but products of its hostile policy toward the D.P.R.K." 48

If the hard-liners' aim was to derail the allies' engagement with Pyongyang, they failed. Seoul and Tokyo, already well aware of the North's uranium enrichment activities, were not driven off course.49 They thought that North Korea was willing to deal. "Their true aim is not to continue the nuclear development program, but to seek a breakthrough in relations with the United States," a high-ranking official in South Korea's Ministry of Unification said on October 18.50 After Kelly briefed them on his talks, Seoul went ahead with ministerial talks with Pyongyang and Tokyo moved up the date for resuming normalization talks. "I have decided to resume negotiations," Prime Minister Koizumi declared on October 18, "because I judged that taking the first major step of moving from an adversarial relationship to a cooperative one would be in the best interests of Japan." 51 A high-ranking diplomat explained Koizumi's decision this way: "We cannot afford to have North Korea leave the negotiating table. If the United States takes a more hard-line stance, we have to mollify North Korea. The negotiations have definitely become much harder." 52

It would not take long to learn just how much harder. The Agreed Framework's Article I, paragraph 3, explicitly links the supply of heavy fuel oil to a freeze of its plutonium program. When Washington prevailed on Tokyo and Seoul to suspend shipments of heavy fuel oil in November 2002, Pyongyang was quick to respond tit for tat by unfreezing that program. What little had remained of the 1994 Agreed Framework was soon in tatters.

Pressure and Counter-Pressure

Hard-liners in the administration were convinced that Iraq's fate would chasten North Korea. On the day that Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled from its pedestal in Baghdad, Under Secretary of State John Bolton said, "We are hopeful that a number of regimes will draw the appropriate lesson from Iraq." 53 Pyongyang's reaction suggests that far from becoming more pliable, however, the Iraq war strengthened its determination to arm unless Washington had a change of heart. In an official statement on the start of the war, North Korea noted that the United States had first demanded that Iraq submit to inspections, and it did. The United States next demanded that Iraq disarm, and it began to. The United States then attacked it anyway. "This suggests that even the signing of a non-aggression treaty with the U.S. would not help avert war," a D.P.R.K. Foreign Ministry spokesman said on April 6, 2003. "Only military deterrent force, supported by ultra-modern weapons, can avert a war and protect the security of the nation. This is the lesson drawn from the Iraqi war." 54

North Korea's deeds matched its words. In December 2002, it had asked that the International Atomic Energy Agency unseal its reactor and reprocessing plant. Urged to reconsider its request, it threw out the I.A.E.A. inspectors. After the I.A.E.A. Board of Governors denounced the action, North Korea formally renounced the Nonproliferation Treaty on January 10, 2003. Then, with American forces tied down preparing for war in the Persian Gulf, it challenged the United States by lighting two nuclear fuses. It resumed reprocessing to extract plutonium from nuclear fuel rods that it had removed from its reactor in 1994 but had stored at Yongbyon under inspectors' watchful eyes ever since, as required by the Agreed Framework. It also resumed making plutonium-laden spent fuel by refueling and restarting the reactor.

The U.S. response was to try bringing counter-pressure to bear on Pyongyang, all the while denying any crisis. In late January 2003, Admiral Thomas B. Fargo, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, requested the dispatch of several squadrons of warplanes to the theater.55 On February 3, officials said that 24 B-52 and B-1 bombers had been placed on alert for deployment to Guam.56 On February 6, Secretary of State Powell told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that "no military option has been taken off the table, although we have no intention of attacking North Korea as a nation"—implicitly making exception for its nuclear sites.57 That same day, in an interview with BBC, Ri Pyong-gap, deputy director of the D.P.R.K. Foreign Ministry warned, "A preemptive attack is not something only the United States can do. We can also do that when it is a matter of life and death." 58 On February 7, Pentagon officials confirmed that the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson was ordered to Japan, replacing the Kitty Hawk which had been deployed to the Persian Gulf.59 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld disclosed plans to pull U.S. forces back from the DMZ, placing them out of range of North Korean artillery and in a much better position to counterattack the North.60 The administration began pressing the I.A.E.A. to refer the North Korean nuclear issue to the UN Security Council and seek sanctions.61

U.S. efforts to step up pressure on North Korea provoked South Korea's president-elect Roh Moo-hyun to tell a trade union audience, "It is better to struggle than to suffer death in a war." Sounding like he was still campaigning for office, he added, "Koreans should stand together, although things will get difficult when the United States bosses us around." 62 In his final speech to the nation, outgoing president Kim Dae-jung was more diplomatic. "More than anything,” he said, “dialogue between North Korea and the United States is the key to a solution." Hu Jintao, about to assume the presidency of China, struck the same note with a touch of urgency, saying the United States should hold "direct dialogues" with North Korea "as soon as possible." 63

Deputy Secretary of State Armitage said much the same thing in testimony before Congress: "Of course we're going to have direct talks with the North Koreans." He made clear that "before we do that, we want to have a strong international platform." 64 He was publicly admonished by the White House for saying so.

Nevertheless, China decided to arrange an occasion for direct dialogue by hosting three-party talks on April 23-25, 2003. China induced North Korea to come by promising a separate meeting with the Americans. Having failed to block the talks, administration hard-liners saw to it they would go nowhere.65 Assistant Secretary of State Kelly was given strict instructions not to negotiate or even to talk one-on-one to his North Korean counterpart.66 The United States demanded "complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement"—CVID, in diplomatic shorthand—requiring the North to begin dismantling its nuclear programs without U.S. reciprocity and without the two nuclear plants it was promised in 1994. "In this first set of meetings, nothing is being put on the table," Secretary of State Powell affirmed. "They will hear what we think about the situation. They will hear our strong views." 67

Lack of formal contact did not keep North Korea from conveying strong views of its own. Negotiator Li Gun cornered Kelly and told him it had nuclear weapons. "We can't dismantle them," he was quoted as saying. "It's up to you whether we do a physical demonstration or transfer them." 68 It was a demand for diplomatic give-and-take. Even though his words, "physical demonstration," were more ambiguous than "test," administration hard-liners who first disclosed what had transpired characterized Li's statement as a threat to test a nuclear weapon and proof of the futility of talks. President Bush seemed to side with the hard-liners: "See, they're back to the old blackmail game." 69

Administration officials began talking a lot in public about the possibility of nuclear exports or nuclear tests by Pyongyang, but made only passing reference to the North's self-styled "new bold proposal" tabled during the talks to negotiate an end to its nuclear activities. In that proposal, North Korea said it would not make nuclear weapons, would resume inspections and would first freeze, then dismantle its nuclear programs. It added that it would maintain its moratorium on ballistic missile flight testing and stop exporting missile technology. In return, it wanted a formal non-aggression pact and a U.S. pledge not to interfere in its internal affairs or impede improvement in its political and economic ties with South Korea and Japan, as well as the electricity and light-water reactors it was promised in the Agreed Framework.

North Koreans often float concessions on a tide of threats. When U.S. officials play up the threats, not the concessions, it makes headlines. Aware of both the concessions and the threats, however, South Korea and Japan react by pressing Washington to engage in diplomatic give-and-take. In this case, a senior Japanese official called the North Korean proposal "generous." 70

North Korea continued to ratchet up its nuclear leverage. At a meeting in New York with U.S. special envoy Jack Pritchard on July 8, D.P.R.K. Ambassador Pak disclosed that the North had completed reprocessing the five or six bombs' worth of plutonium on June 30.71 In an interview with the South Korean daily Hangyoreh, North Korea's deputy permanent representative at the United Nations Han Song Ryol, was asked if its nuclear program was intended to be a negotiating card or a deterrent. "Both are right," he replied. "If the United States continues to isolate and gag us, we need the nuclear weapons for survival. But if the United States normalizes relations with us and guarantees non-aggression towards us, then it is also up for negotiation." 72

The United States was trying to conjure up threats of its own as a prelude to talks. One was to disclose the existence of new U.S. military plans described by an administration official as "so aggressive that they could provoke a war." 73 How they could be carried out without South Korean and Japanese backing was not obvious.

Another was the Proliferation Security Initiative to interdict shipment of "WMD or missiles and related items at sea, in the air, or on land." 74 Ships credibly suspected of carrying missile exports can be stopped, but enough plutonium for a bomb, about the size of a grapefruit, is unlikely to be transported by ship and even less likely to be detected if it were.

Acting in the belief that, as Paul Wolfowitz put it, North Korea "is teetering on the edge of economic collapse," hard-liners were pushing for more—an economic embargo and naval blockade to strangle it. All of the North's neighbors knew, however, that such a threat would provoke Pyongyang to arm a lot sooner than collapse, which is why they did not try. Few put it as forthrightly as South Korea's minister of unification Jeong Se-hyun. "The harder the U.S. pushes ahead with the Proliferation Security Initiative, the stronger the backlash it will face from the North," he told reporters in Washington. "The United States needs to reassure the North that it will do its best to sustain the North's regime stability rather than present ambiguous positions over the security issue." 75 Washington had to settle for less—interdicting cross-border transfers of counterfeit money, drugs, and other contraband.76 States have long tried to do that, without much success. Interdiction could put a crimp in the funds available to North Korea's elites but it is a mere pinprick, too small to implode the North's economy.

A fourth threat was to go to the U.N. Security Council seeking a mandate for sanctions, or failing that, a political admonishment of North Korea.

Under Secretary of State John Bolton summed up these threats in a speech in Seoul on July 31, 2003. After repeated references to Kim Jong-il by name—43 to be exact, nearly all derogatory—he warned of "timely action by the Security Council" as well as PSI.77 Pyongyang's reaction was vituperative, denouncing Bolton as "rude human scum." 78 Far from disavowing Bolton, the White House said he had been "speaking for the administration." 79

Japan did join PSI. The Koizumi government introduced a bill to authorize economic sanctions without a UN mandate. Some Diet members pressed Koizumi to block remittances from North Korean sympathizers who resided in Japan—some four billion yen a year—but trying to stanch flows of funds will only redirect them via less transparent routes. Even with public opinion strongly in favor of sanctions, Koizumi remained reluctant to impose them. 80 Instead, he reopened talks with Pyongyang. Later, during Diet debate on legislation to bar North Korean ships from Japanese ports, he had a revealing exchange with an opposition party lawmaker who argued, "There is no point giving the government a new sword if [it is] never willing to draw it." Koizumi parried the blow, "Using swords isn't the only way to defeat our enemies. It is best to move forward without drawing the sword." 81 The Bush administration's pressure tactics, in short, were mere bluff and the North Koreans have never fallen for bluffs. By contrast, North Korea's threat to make more fissile material was no bluff.

More Talks but Not Much Give-and-Take

The pattern of U.S. officials publicly highlighting threats while downplaying offers from North Korea recurred when six-party talks opened in August 2003, once again prompting South Korea and Japan to urge the United States to negotiate.

"It is not our goal to have nuclear weapons," the D.P.R.K.'s Kim Yong-il reaffirmed. "We can dismantle our nuclear program if the United States makes a switchover in its hostile policy towards us and does not pose any threat to us." He no longer insisted on a non-aggression pact as a first step. Instead, the North would "clarify its will to dismantle its nuclear program if the U.S. makes clear its will to give up its hostile policy toward the D.P.R.K." In return for this agreement in principle, it wanted the United States to resume shipments of heavy fuel oil and "sharply increase" food aid. Kim then laid out a sequence of simultaneous steps. The D.P.R.K. "will allow the refreeze of our nuclear facility and nuclear substance and monitoring and inspection of them from the time the U.S. has concluded a non-aggression treaty with the D.P.R.K. and compensated for the loss of electricity. Next, it will settle the missile issue—"put on ice its missile test-firing and stop its [missile] export"—once the United States and Japan open diplomatic relations. Then, it "will dismantle [its] nuclear facility from the time the LWRs [light-water reactors] are completed," as the Agreed Framework stipulated.82 Kim also denied U.S. allegations that the North had admitted developing nuclear weapons based on enriched uranium.83

The North Koreans had reason to expect the United States would respond with a new proposal of its own, but Assistant Secretary Kelly repeated the mantra CVID and only hinted at U.S. flexibility without spelling out what it would do. According to one U.S. official, no longer would the North Koreans "have to do everything before they would hear anything." The hint was so cryptic that the North Koreans did not catch it at first, nor did others. Kelly refused to elaborate in a half-hour conversation with his North Korean counterpart just after the plenary session. "Read my statement carefully,” he said abruptly. "Have Kim Jong-il read my statement." Kim responded testily, warning that if the United States was unwilling to negotiate, North Korea would have "no choice but to declare its possession of nuclear weapons" and "demonstrate" its deterrent. The exchange was first disclosed by hard-line officials in Washington with access to the reporting cable.84 Lee Soo-hyuck, South Korea's representative, tried to be diplomatic about the encounter: the issue "wasn't dealt with in a sensitive manner." 85

Kelly floated the idea of issuing a joint statement with vague reassurances that the North would not be attacked, but Washington balked at the language suggested by China. Wang Yi, China's representative, put the best face on the lack of agreement, telling an August 29 press conference that the talks "helped make a very important step forward toward a final peaceful settlement of the issue." Participants, he added, now "share a consensus" on six points: the goal of a nuclear-free Korean peninsula, "peaceful settlement" of the nuclear issue through diplomatic dialogue, continuation of six-party talks, proceeding by "synchronous or parallel implementation," the need to take North Korea's "reasonable concern" about security into consideration, and the need to avoid actions that would escalate the tension.86

Despite the discord, Japan's representative Yabunaka Mitoji characterized the round as "very substantial and beneficial for finding ways to resolve the nuclear standoff." He found North Korea's acceptance of bilateral talks on the abduction issue especially soothing, "Tonight I intend to sleep well." 87 South Korea's deputy chief representative Wi Sung-lac sounded just as positive. "From what the North Koreans said during the meeting, we could read that North Korea is willing to resolve the issue through dialogue." 88 China's Wang Yi was blunt. "America's policy toward the D.P.R.K.—this is the main obstacle we are facing." In a Foreign Ministry briefing, China's spokesman Kong Quan elaborated, "How the U.S. is threatening the D.P.R.K.—this needs to be discussed in the next round of talks." 89

Growing U.S. isolation led President Bush to try negotiating with Kim Jong-il for a change. "He's been saying, I want a security agreement, and what we've now said is that in return for dismantling the programs, we're all willing to sign some kind of document, not a treaty, but a piece of paper that says we won't attack you," Bush told reporters on October 19, 2003, after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, summarizing what he had said to the leaders of South Korea, Japan, and China. The reason for the U.S. offer, he acknowledged, was to deflect criticism from the administration's stance at the talks: "What's important is the burden is on North Korea." 90 The president's pledge coincided with decisions by Japan and South Korea to commit troops to Iraq, suggesting a tacit quid pro quo.91

In preparation for the second round of six-party talks, China circulated draft communiqué language. Reflecting North Korea's demands, the draft called for rewarding the North at each step, including political measures as well as energy and other forms of economic assistance. Vice President Cheney intervened to reject the draft. "We don't negotiate with evil. We defeat it," a senior administration official quoted him as saying.92 The United States, with the concurrence of Japan and a reluctant South Korea, came up with a counter-draft. At issue was the sequencing of steps. South Korea and Japan were willing to offer energy assistance from the outset and to normalize relations as North Korea got rid of its weapons programs; the United States was not. It insisted North Korea begin dismantling before it would reciprocate and refused to commit to normal relations even after dismantlement was completed. North Korea rejected trading "action for words." The difference of view was evident in North Korea's term, "simultaneous action," which implied tight linkage, in contrast to the looser sounding U.S. words, "coordinated steps." A North Korean diplomat compared the U.S. stance to "telling me to take off all my clothes and walk out in a snowstorm and you promise you will come running with a coat. I don't think so." Kelly spoke of "herding cats," a sign that the other parties, far from ganging up on Pyongyang, were pressing Washington to offer timely quid pro quos.93

North Korea did move further to satisfy the United States in the run-up to the second round. It made the freeze part of a first step, tying reciprocal action to the agreement in principle. On December 9, a D.P.R.K. Foreign Ministry spokesman declared, "Our stand is to agree upon the first-phase action by making a 'words for words' commitment at the next round of the six-way talks at least if the United States is not in a position to accept our proposal a package solution at one time. To this end, measures such as the U.S. delisting the D.P.R.K. as a 'terrorism sponsor,' lifting the political, economic, and military sanctions and blockade, and energy aid including the supply of heavy fuel oil and electricity by the U.S. and neighboring countries should be taken in exchange for the D.P.R.K.'s freeze of nuclear activities." 94

A December 15 signed commentary in the party organ Rodong Sinmun added that as part of the package solution, the D.P.R.K. is ready to eliminate "all its nuclear weapons." 95 On January 12, 2004, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said the North would settle for electricity. "If the Bush administration truly intends to resolve the nuclear issue with simultaneous actions in accordance with a package deal and is willing to agree on [not giving] compensation in return for freezing as first-phase measures, we are also willing to freeze our nuclear activities based on graphite-moderated reactors as a starting point for denuclearization." 96

This coincided with a visit to Yongbyon by former Los Alamos director Siegfried Hecker, former U.S. special envoy to North Korea Jack Pritchard, and Stanford professor John Lewis, which a D.P.R.K. Foreign Ministry spokesman characterized on January 10 as an occasion for the North to "demonstrate its deterrent" and "ensure transparency." 97 Told that "at Yongbyon you will see the importance of a freeze," they were shown the reactor in operation and the cooling pond empty of spent nuclear fuel. Hecker was handed two glass jars of what his hosts said was plutonium, symbolizing readiness for U.S. inspections and eventual handover. First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye-gwan categorically denied it had a program to make highly enriched uranium, however. The D.P.R.K. "has nothing to do with any HEU program," he said. "We have no program, no facilities you are talking about, or scientists trained for this purpose." 98 His words skirted the possibility of making low enriched uranium, which differed from making weapons-grade uranium only in how long the centrifuges spun the uranium gas. He expressed willingness to explain any "data" on enrichment that the United States presented, a stance the North reaffirmed in talks with China.

When the second round opened on February 25, 2004, North Korea's representative was Kim Gae- gwan, whom Americans knew from experience was a North Korean they could do business with. He said the North was ready to freeze its plutonium program as a step to dismantlement and that the freeze "will be followed by inspections." He asked U.S. negotiator Kelly what the United States would do in return. Kelly said nothing about providing electricity. He reaffirmed Bush's commitment to multiparty security assurances, but insisted it would take more than the elimination of nuclear arms and missiles for the United States to normalize relations. "Missiles, conventional forces and human rights concerns could be discussed, and progress could lead to full normalization," he later told a Senate hearing.99 The North wants normal relations a lot sooner.

South Korea met North Korea part way. It tabled a proposal that had three stages: first, an agreement in principle in which North Korea would declare its willingness to eliminate all its nuclear activities and the United States would declare its willingness to provide security assurances; second, a freeze that, if cast as "a step to dismantlement" and verified, would be accompanied by a "coordinated" response such as heavy fuel oil and other compensation; third, verified elimination.100 Washington, insisting on elimination, opposed a freeze and refused to join in providing heavy fuel oil, but Kelly, edging beyond his instructions, called the proposal "creative." 101

Without a U.S. promise of electricity, the North's Kim backtracked. "We don't plan to include our civilian nuclear program for peaceful purposes in the freeze and dismantlement." He denied the existence of a highly enriched uranium program.102 Kelly, in turn, withdrew the offer of security assurances and, on new instructions from Washington approved by Vice President Dick Cheney acting in Secretary of State Powell's absence, said that continued U.S. support for the talks depended on North Korea's commitment to CVID. If not, U.S. goodwill could run out, he warned, and all options remained on the table. The Chinese, who had been working on a joint communiqué, gave up. Sandbagged by Cheney, Powell struck back, instructing Kelly to extend the talks for another day and to emphasize U.S. patience and flexibility.103 Departing from his prepared text, Powell underscored that message in a speech at the Heritage Foundation on March 2, keeping the talks from breaking down.104

"For now, the North has not presented anything like a final position," said an experienced U.S. observer after the round. "The details are worth recording at this stage, not because they represent fixed points but because where they suggest things may move." Not without a serious counterproposal, however: "Pyongyang is never inclined to back down from even a purely tactical opening position simply in response to a flat 'no'; it will react to a new (or at least, newly elaborated) position from the other side." Some parties "looked eager" to move to "the question of sequencing. But it was too soon in the process for that." The pieces of the core problem would first have to be taken apart and explored in detail. "CVID is a perfectly good opening banner, and even, with a few modifications, a reasonable goal," the observer said of the U.S. position, but "unless one expects the other side simply to capitulate," CVID "cannot continue to dominate the talks." 105

Frustrated by the discord over a joint communiqué, China again put the best face on results with a "chairman's statement" summarizing the parties' points of accord: "their commitment to a nuclear-weapon-free Korean Peninsula," their "willingness to coexist peacefully," to seek a resolution "peacefully through dialogue," to "take coordinated steps to address the nuclear issue and related concerns," to hold a third round of talks "no later than the end of the second quarter of 2004," and to establish "a working group in preparation for the plenary." 106

A day after the round ended, Pyongyang called into question whether "any further talks would help find a solution to the issue," citing U.S. insistence on its "abandoning its nuclear program first," refusal to "normalize relations with the D.P.R.K. unless missile, conventional weapons, biological and chemical weapons, human rights and other issues are settled even after its abandonment of all its nuclear programs," and unwillingness to negotiate directly with the D.P.R.K., "giving no answer even to the questions raised." 107 Russia's ambassador to Seoul, Teymaruz Ramishvili, subsequently summed up the situation: "Four countries are ready to make a deal. Two countries are not." 108

President Roh openly showed his displeasure on March 1 by distancing Seoul from Washington in a nationally televised speech, "Step by step we should strengthen our independence and build our strength as an independent nation." 109 Two days later he told reporters, "In fact, the United States wants us to join it in severing dialogue and exchanges and putting pressure on the North,” He rejected this view, “We, however, think it is more favorable for us to adopt a strategy of dialogue and engage North Korea." This led President Bush to hold an impromptu meeting with Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon on March 3.110 That day, the North led off economic talks with the South by asking for electricity for joint development of an industrial park in Kaesong, just north of the DMZ, a request that the South said was premature.111 On March 4, the Roh government announced four goals for its security policy: resolving the North Korean nuclear issue peacefully; establishing peace on the peninsula; simultaneous improvement in U.S.-Korea relations and independent national defense; and promoting joint prosperity in North and South Korea as well as cooperation among Northeast Asian countries.112 On April 15, in a ringing affirmation of government policy, the Uri party won a majority of seats in South Korea’s National Assembly elections, the first ever for the center-left. On April 20, Seoul announced it would supply electricity for the joint development of Kaesong. The South had chosen cooperation over coercion in dealing with the North.

Japan also decided to go its own way by holding a second summit meeting with North Korea. The North's willingness to break the impasse over the abductees' kin made that possible. In an hour-long bilateral with Japan's Yabonaka Mitoji at the six-party talks, the D.P.R.K.'s Kim Gye-gwan had linked the abduction issue to an improvement in U.S.-North Korean relations: "Progress in the abduction issue is correlated with the nuclear issue and U.S. relations." 113 He signaled Pyongyang's readiness to engage Tokyo at a press briefing afterward. "We believe that the kidnapping issue has been basically resolved," he said. "The issue of follow-up settlements can be dealt with in the negotiating process between North Korea and Japan." 114 Pyongyang soon told Tokyo it would allow relatives of the five repatriated abductees to leave if Prime Minister Koizumi came to pick them up.115

Returning to Pyongyang on May 22, 2004, Koizumi secured the kin's release in return for a promise of 250,000 tons of rice and $10 million in medicine, but that was not his main reason for going to Pyongyang. "We need to make a breakthrough in stalled talks," he said on his departure.116 He was just as clear about the result. Kim Jong-il reaffirmed what his diplomats had said at the last round, no more: "He clearly stated that the objective was denuclearization. He further stated very clearly that freezing of the nuclear program is to be accompanied by verification." Koizumi sounded upbeat, "I felt personally that North Korea is interested in moving forward in a positive way with six-party talks." 117 The two made some headway on the abduction issue, but not much. "We agreed to conduct another investigation into the ten [other abductees], with Japanese officials involved this time, and try to gain results as soon as possible." 118 They also agreed to resume talks on normalizing relations. Kim Jong-il was similarly upbeat. He spoke of "the historic mission facing us politicians to improve the abnormal D.P.R.K.-Japan relationship" and saw "no insoluble problems if the two countries . . . buckle down to settling them." Kim underscored his aim in normalizing relations with Japan was to coax the United States into ending enmity. "Progress in improving the bilateral relationship would largely depend on what attitude and stand the ally of Japan would take." 119 Full resolution of the abduction issue, in other words, required an improvement in U.S.-D.P.R.K. relations.

Koizumi tried. In a telephone conversation with President Bush, he passed along Kim's request for direct talks and urged him to accept, but Bush demurred.120

Just as they had trumpeted the North's enrichment activities at the time of the first Japan-D.P.R.K. summit, on May 22, the day of Koizumi's trip, hard-liners in the Bush administration sounded a discordant note by disclosing that North Korea may have shipped uranium hexafluoride to Libya in early 2001. Yet others in the intelligence community had reached a different conclusion—that the source was Pakistan.121

That was not the only discordant note. Japan's conservative press played up criticism of the summit from the right wing of the LDP who raised doubts about the fate of those said to have died in North Korean hands, as well as dozens of other Japanese who had gone missing over a decade ago. More muted criticism of a very different sort came from others in Tokyo who favored "joining Asia" and "distancing" Japan somewhat from the United States. "The biggest weakness of Japan's diplomacy is its failure to develop a strong base for relations worthy of mutual trust with its neighbors," argued Terashima Jitsuro, director of the Mitsui Global Strategic Studies Institute. He dismissed threats to attack North Korea as "bluff" and questioned "over-reliance on the security alliance." Instead of slavishly following Bush, he said, "The question is how to nudge Washington to shed its unilateral stand and ensure the country plays a responsible leadership role in the global community." 122 In upper house elections in July, the LDP lost one seat, fewer than expected, but the Democratic Party, which called for withdrawal of Japan's troops from Iraq, gained twelve. Vocal opposition from all sides slowed Koizumi, but did not deflect him from his course.

Koizumi expressed hopes of normalizing relations with North Korea during his tenure in office.123 That infuriated Japan's ultra-nationalists, who viewed any accommodation with North Korea as treasonous. On September 10, 2004, a time bomb was discovered at the home of the lead diplomat in negotiations with the North, Deputy Foreign Minister Tanaka Hitoshi, along with note denouncing him as a "traitor." The reaction of Ishihara Shintaro was revealing, "I think it was deserved." 124 The bomb was no isolated incident. A leading LDP proponent of normalization with North Korea, Nonaka Hiromu, found a bullet in his mail, part of a campaign of ultra-nationalist harassment.

Pyongyang responded with what it intended to be an olive branch to Tokyo. In a contentious meeting in November 2004, it turned over the ashes of one of the Japanese abductees it said had died. Japanese government tests to identify the remains proved inconclusive, but tests done by a university lab found—with perhaps more confidence than was warranted—that the remains were not the victim's.125 The ensuing uproar in Japan's news media set back normalization talks.

Under renewed pressure from the allies to respond to North Korea's offers with one of its own, the Bush administration finally laid its first proposal on the table during the third round of talks in June 2004. Although it eschewed the phrase CVID, it still insisted North Korea act first and deferred U.S. reciprocity. The North had to make a unilateral declaration to "dismantle all nuclear programs." In return, South Korea and Japan, but not the United States, would resume shipments of heavy fuel oil. Implementation would begin with a three-month preparatory period during which the North would turn over a "detailed implementation agreement providing for supervised disabling, dismantling and elimination" of all its nuclear activities, fissile material, weapons, and components, institute a freeze, permit all its nuclear material to be secured and monitored, and begin dismantling of all nuclear weapons and components and key gas centrifuge parts under "international verification." Upon acceptance of the implementation agreement, the United States and others would provide provisional security assurances, begin a study of its energy needs and how to meet them with non-nuclear energy, and initiate discussion of steps to remove the D.P.R.K. from its list of state sponsors of terrorism and to lift remaining economic sanctions. The United States would offer "lasting benefits to the D.P.R.K." after its nuclear programs were eliminated but would still withhold a "wholly transformed relationship"—normalization and more permanent security assurances—until it changed its behavior on human rights, eliminated its chemical and biological programs, ended missile exports, and adopted a less provocative conventional force posture.126 Hard-liners had beaten back an attempt by the State Department to offer normal relations sooner.

The South Koreans, who had worked with the Americans on the U.S. proposal, took it a step further. They proposed a "concept paper" of their own which lengthened the period of the freeze to six months and did not preclude nuclear energy or U.S. shipments of heavy fuel oil, suggesting key openings for compromise. The U.S. stance that any energy assistance had to be non-nuclear put it at odds with Seoul, which had already spent substantial sums constructing the nuclear power plants promised the North in the Agreed Framework. As South Korea's unification minister put it just after the third round, "It is quite a severe demand from the United States that North Korea should give up the use of nuclear power even for peaceful purposes." 127

The D.P.R.K. took an important step to a first-stage deal by offering to exchange "words for words" and "action for action." By "words for words" it meant an agreement in principle that if Washington "gives up its hostile policy," it will "transparently renounce all nuclear-weapons-related programs." By "action for action," it meant a series of phased reciprocal steps starting with a freeze on "all the facilities related to nuclear weapons" and shutdown of its reactor and reprocessing plant at Yongbyon. The reactor then had two or more bombs' worth of plutonium in its spent fuel. Most important, the freeze covered "even products achieved through reprocessing," which meant Pyongyang would put the 1994 plutonium—five to six bombs' worth—back under inspection. In return, Pyongyang insisted, Washington had to "participate" in supplying 2,000 megawatts of electricity which it regards as compensation for what it was promised under the Agreed Framework, take it off the list of "state sponsors of terrorism" and lift related sanctions.128 It did not clarify whether North Korea had "facilities" to enrich uranium or was in the process of building them. A discussion of that could begin if Washington were to engage in direct dialogue with Pyongyang.

Prospects for the U.S. Position in Asia: Further Erosion

Negotiating directly with Pyongyang was precisely the step the Bush administration refused to take. Instead, after the round, officials began to back away from positions the United States had taken in the talks. Having dropped the phrase CVID, for instance, Kelly now restored it in prepared testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The campaign rhetoric of both sides in the 2004 election was far from reassuring as well. North Korea saw all this as a retreat and used it as a rationale for backtracking of its own.

After the election, President Bush and his top aides resumed demonizing Kim Jong-il. Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice in her confirmation hearings called North Korea an “outpost of evil” and the president in his State of the Union address pledged “to support democratic movements in the Middle East and beyond, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.”

The administration also overplayed, even exaggerated, U.S. intelligence assessments in a vain attempt to stampede South Korea, Japan, and China into referring the North Korean nuclear issue to the U.N. Security Council for sanctions.

First, Michael Green, senior director for East Asia on the National Security Council staff, went to Japan, South Korea and China in January 2005 to brief them on U.S. intelligence claims that North Korea had sold uranium in gaseous form to Libya in 2002 and to urge them to back UN sanctions. All were skeptical of the claims and his recommendation. The evidence did not rule out another possibility, that Pakistan had been the source of the uranium hexafluoride.129

Next, Secretary of State Rice traveled to Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing in mid-March to say that Washington was running out of patience, suggesting a June deadline for sanctions and a quarantine of North Korea if it did not resume talks.130 Japan did show willingness to threaten sanctions on North Korea, but Prime Minister Koizumi remained reluctant to impose them. "I believe North Korea will return to the six-party talks," he said on March 23, three days after Rice left Tokyo. "We need not refer it to the UN Security Council now." 131 He also showed interest in returning to Pyongyang for a third summit to defuse the crisis.

Finally, Washington, warning of an impending nuclear test by North Korea, dispatched its new representative to six-party talks, Christopher Hill, to all three capitals to urge them to put pressure on Pyongyang. "We have to solve this problem—one way or the other," he told reporters.132 Again, the reaction in Asia was disbelief and rejection.133 South Korean intelligence, which had long been monitoring the excavation site in Kilju, had seen no conclusive evidence of a test.134 Two U.S. intelligence agencies also remained unpersuaded.135

While U.S. officials were talking about sales of uranium and nuclear tests, North Korea had called the administration's bluff—and raised the stakes. In February 2005, it announced that it had "manufactured nukes" with and was suspending its participation in six-party talks until it heard directly and authoritatively that the United States was prepared to drop its "hostile policy" and "co-exist." In April, it shut down the nuclear reactor at Yongbyon and removed the spent fuel, which it could soon reprocess to extract at least two bombs' worth more of plutonium.

President Bush's actions have convinced South Koreans that the United States, not North Korea, is the main threat to peace.136 Nevertheless, over opposition of his own supporters, Roh Moo-hyun tried to show that he was a loyal ally by sending troops to Iraq. He expected Washington to reciprocate that loyalty. As he told the National Assembly in justifying his decision, "In order to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue peacefully, it is important to maintain strong cooperation with the United States." 137 Washington's delay in negotiating with Pyongyang further alienated Seoul, fanning the flames of anti-Americanism. President Roh reacted sharply. On March 8, 2005, in a rebuff to the Pentagon's new global strategy of flexibility, dispatching U.S. forces, wherever they are based, to meet far-flung military needs, Roh ruled out deploying Korea-based U.S. forces for North Korea or Taiwan Straits contingencies. "It is acceptable if the United States moves some of its forces to Iraq or any other conflict on condition that the troop redeployment does not have a critical effect on the Korean Peninsula," he told a graduating class at South Korea's air force academy. "However, such a U.S. troop redeployment should be restricted if it involves regional conflicts in Northeast Asia." 138

On March 15, South Korea flipped the switch letting electricity flow to Kaesong.139 The day after Secretary of State Rice's departure, Roh told graduates of Third Military Academy that South Korea would play a "balancing role" in the region, breaking with what a top N.S.C. official called "Cold War camp diplomacy" to act independently of Washington and Tokyo.140 On April 4, South Korea's defense minister disclosed it would reduce payments to offset the cost of keeping U.S. troops in Korea by 8.9% or $60 million and "raise the level of military cooperation between Korea and China to at least that shared between Korea and Japan." 141 Even opposition leader Park Geun-hye got into the act. In a talk at the Heritage Foundation, she called on Washington to send a special envoy to Pyongyang and "set forth a detailed and realistic proposal" that included "a security assurance," economic aid, and "normalization of ties." 142

President Roh also seized on passage of a resolution by a provincial legislature in Shimane proclaiming "Takeshima Day"—Takeshima is Japan's name for Tokdo, two contested islets that South Korea holds—and Education Ministry approval of new textbooks whitewashing its brutal occupation of Korea to assail Japan for failing to come to terms with its history and warn of "merciless diplomatic war." 143 His actions coincided with the start of well-organized demonstrations in China protesting Japan's failure to atone for its decade-long depredations there.

Washington took the contretemps as yet another sign of America's indispensability in the region, both as an adhesive for South Korea and Japan and as a counterweight to China, but that interpretation seems facile. History is always useful as a wedge to divide Northeast Asians. The question is, why did South Korea and China raise the issue of Japan's history now? The aim was to cool Tokyo's overly warm embrace of Bush administration policy.

For South Korea, the underlying problem was Japanese support for the Bush administration's North Korea policy and particularly for referring the nuclear issue to the U.N. Security Council for sanctions. China worried that Japan was extending its military and naval reach and integrating its forces with the Americans under cover of its security treaty with the United States. That concern was heightened by a February 2005 U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee agreement to use Japanese ports and air fields for unspecified "military emergencies" and to list "encouraging the peaceful resolution of issues surrounding the Taiwan Strait" as one of their "common security objectives." In each case, Japan's pro-American tilt may be more apparent than real. Koizumi's enthusiasm for sanctions was lukewarm and the language in the joint statement was a watered-down version of a reference to Taiwan's security sought by Washington. When a Bush administration official gave a background briefing overstating Japan's commitment to Taiwan, which remains far short of what it had been in the 1960s, Tokyo was privately upset and Beijing was publicly outraged.

Japan's remarkably swift reaction to the Chinese and South Korean protests suggested that the Asia-firsters had regained the upper hand in policy-making. At a meeting of Asian and African leaders in Jakarta on April 22, Koizumi reiterated the words of Muriyama's 1995 apology in an attempt to mollify Beijing and Seoul. Hu Jintao reciprocated by meeting with Koizumi, and Chinese demonstrations soon ebbed.144 He and Roh Moo-hyun agreed to hold summit meetings with Koizumi in June.

Instead of taking the lead in bringing North Korea around, the Bush administration kept trying to hand off the job to China. President Bush himself said, "The only way to convince Kim Jong-il to disarm is to get China very much involved in the process, which is what we have done. It wasn't easy work because the Chinese felt it was the U.S. responsibility, and they really didn't have equity in the process." 145

China opposed seeking U.N. Security Council authorization for sanctions. 146 President Hu Jintao spoke "frankly" about the need to resume six-party talks when he saw North Korea's prime minister, Pak Pong-ju, in Beijing on March 23. Pak insisted the North would return to six-party talks only when "conditions are mature." 147Unmoved, the North declared it would not engage in talks just because others asked it to and tried to change the terms of negotiations: "Now that the D.P.R.K. has become a full-fledged nuclear weapons state, the six-party talks should be disarmament talks where the participating countries negotiate the issue on an equal footing." 148 Enumerating the nuclear threats he said the North faced, a Foreign Ministry spokesman redefined denuclearization of the peninsula. "It is necessary to clear South Korea of all the nuclear weapons of the U.S."—already withdrawn in the 1990s—"and root out every element that can help South Korea have access to nukes," adding, "Of course, this should be confirmed through verification." He also demanded that the United States "stop all nuclear war exercises against the D.P.R.K. in and around the Korean peninsula." Dai Bingguo then summoned Kang Sok-ju to Beijing April 2-5 and told him to spell out what North Korea wanted from the United States to resume the talks. He held up agreeing to a date for a visit by President Hu to Pyongyang until he received a response. It was China's way of keeping the six-party process alive and avoiding Security Council consideration of the matter. As China's ambassador to the United Nations, Wang Guangya, summed up its position: taking the issue to the Security Council "would destroy the whole process" and "push a solution to this issue even farther away." 149

North Korea listed six conditions for returning to six-party talks, among them, that Secretary Rice withdraw her comment on “outpost of tyranny;” that the United States “respect its sovereignty,” which is diplomatic code for not attempted to overthrow its government; that Ambassador Hill meet bilaterally with his North Korean counterpart before the next six-party round; that denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, not disarming North Korea, be the subject of the talks; that the United States agree to meet directly within the framework of six-party talks; and that North Korean be treated as an equal. It took three months to whittle down these conditions to one, a bilateral meeting between Hill and Kim Gae-gwan.

As China was trying to breathe life into six-party talks, President Bush lashed out at Kim Jong-il during a televised press conference on April 28, calling him "a dangerous person . . . who starves his people" and has "huge concentration camps." Asked if the number of troops tied down in Iraq limited his options with North Korea, as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had told Congress, he said the chairman had assured him "he doesn't feel we're limited." Asked about a Defense Intelligence Agency estimate that the North could arm its missiles with nuclear weapons, he said, "We don't know if he can or not, but I think it's best when you're dealing with a tyrant like Kim Jong-il to assume he can." He went on to lay the problem at China's door, "So when Kim Jong-il announced the other day about his nuclear intentions and weapons, it certainly caught the attention of the Chinese because they had laid out a policy that was contradicted by Kim Jong-il." 150 His remarks drew an immediate diplomatic rebuke from Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon that "the exchange of antagonistic words between the United States and North Korea only worsens the situation." 151

The war of words was quickly followed by saber-rattling. The North test-fired a new short-range missile on May 1. That day, a March 15 draft paper, "Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations," was made available to Kyodo news service, spelling out guidelines for regional commanders to seek authority to carry out preemptive nuclear strikes and revealing that U.S. submarines making port calls in Yokosuka, Sasebo, and Okinawa can be reloaded with nuclear weapons in a crisis.152 The next day, Secretary of State Rice told reporters, "The United States maintains significant—and I want to underline significant—deterrent capability of all kinds in the Asia-Pacific region." 153 On May 3, South Korea announced that it was reviving discussions of Oplan 5029 to deal with military contingencies on the peninsula.154 On May 4, Rice and Japan's foreign minister Machimura Nobutaka agreed to seek "other options" if North Korea did not return to six-party talks.155 The next day the Korea Herald ran a story that the United States was bolstering its military capabilities in the Pacific by placing a squadron of B-2 bombers and a squadron of F-15 fighter jets on extended rotation to Guam and introducing two new Aegis cruisers to Japan this summer, bringing the total to seven. The dispatch of 15 F-117A Stealth fighters to the theater was disclosed later that month.

All of this drew an unusually sharp response from Beijing. "We oppose trying to address the problem through strong-arm tactics," said China's Foreign Ministry spokesman. He also rejected the use of economic sanctions for leverage: "The normal trade flow should not be linked up with the nuclear issue." 156

Why would China ever impose stringent sanctions that might jeopardize the North Korean regime's survival—especially since its influence in the region has been enhanced by the administration's refusal to deal? Throughout the 1990s, Beijing watched had warily on the sidelines as Pyongyang wooed Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo. China did not want a nuclear-armed North Korea or war on the Korean peninsula, but it worried that Pyongyang was moving to legitimate the U.S. military presence in Korea, or worse, become a U.S. ally. That was all but inconceivable to most U.S. officials, who looked to Beijing for help with Pyongyang, exaggerating China's influence and its willingness to pressure the North in the process. Under President Clinton, the need for Beijing's help with North Korea became the principal justification for improving relations with China. Under President Bush, Beijing's willingness to pressure Pyongyang became a litmus test for hard-liners who were spoiling for confrontation with China, while engagers played up China's role in an attempt to keep up the pretense of refusing to reward bad behavior and to shield accommodation with China from right-wing critics.

Either way, the United States has put China back into the game with North Korea, at quarterback no less, in a position to enhance its influence in the region by playing well with others—not to pressure Pyongyang, but to get Washington to deal. Beijing now stands to benefit whether six-party talks fail or succeed.

The precariousness of the U.S. position in Northeast Asia prompted Richard Armitage, an architect of U.S. policy in the region in the first Bush administration, to air his concern in an interview with Asahi Shimbun on May 2, 2005: "I worry a bit that unless the U.S. is a little more flexible in our approach to North Korea, soon we'll find ourselves being blamed by South Korea and China as the ones who are trouble." His concern extended to Japan as well, citing Tokyo's support for a proposed East Asian Community that excluded the United States: "My view is this is a thinly veiled way to make the point that the United States is not totally welcomed in Asia. I think that's a real mistake," he said. "What worries me about it is if it's the beginning of an erosion." 157

At war with itself, the Bush administration has never come up with a coherent policy toward North Korea. Instead, it has resorted to what one insider described as "no carrot, no stick, and no talk." 158 Hard-liners keep blocking any deal, in hopes that other nations will come around to isolating the North and imposing sanctions stringent enough to compel it to collapse. But hope is not a policy—nor is hawkish posturing.

North Korea has called its bluff by stepping up arming. When President Bush came into office, it had at most one or two bombs' worth of plutonium and a nascent uranium program. When he leaves, it could have 16 or 17 bombs' worth and could be closer to enrich uranium in substantial quantity.

The administration's refusal to try negotiating an end to North Korean nuclear arming is having perverse political effects in Northeast Asia. Instead of binding its allies closer to the United States, it is alienating them—and enhancing China's influence in the process. If this misguided course had a name, it would be hawk disengagement.


1 Ron Suskind, "Without a Doubt," New York Times Magazine, October 17, 2004.

2 Administration officials like Vice President Dick Cheney have occasionally evoked this risk to get China to lean on North Korea. Doyle McManus, "Cheney Makes Clear U.S. Is Not Willing to Bend on North Korea," Los Angeles Times, April 16, 2004. Cf., Charles Krauthammer, "Is It a Crisis Or Not?" Washington Post, January 3, 2003.

3 Unclassified Report by Dr. William J. Perry, U.S. North Korea Policy Coordinator and Special Adviser to the President and the Secretary of State. Review of United States Policy Toward North Korea: Findings and Recommendations, October 12, 1999, pp. 4, 8.

4 U.S.-D.P.R.K. Joint Communique, October 12, 2000, http://www.state.gov/www/regions/eap/001012_usD.P.R.K._ jointcom.html

5 Chosun Ilbo, "Former NIS Head Says N.K. Leader Had Planned S.K. Visit in 2001," June 9, 2004.

6 "The U.S. and Japan: Advancing toward a Mature Partnership," [The Armitage Report], Institute for National Strategic Studies, October 11, 2000. Cf., Green quoted on October 11, 2000.

7 Rust Deming, "Japan's Constitution and Defense Policy: Entering a New Era?" Strategic Forum, No. 213 (November 2004), pp. 1, 8.

8 Hayano Toru, "Koizumi Needs to Listen to Those Around Him," Asahi Shimbun, April 3, 2004.

9 Interview with senior administration official, April 1, 2004.

10 The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Statement by the President, June 6, 2001. Cf., Michael R. Gordon, "U.S. Toughens Terms for North Korea Talks," New York Times, July 3, 2001, p. A-9.

11 Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), "Spokesman of D.P.R.K. Foreign Ministry on Bush Statement on Resuming Negotiations with D.P.R.K., June 18, 2001; and KCNA on U.S.-Proposed Resumption of D.P.R.K.-U.S. Negotiations," June 28, 2001, which elaborates on the June 18 statement.

12 Kyodo, "Pentagon Recommends Use of Nuclear Weapons," September 14, 2001. Cf., U.S. Department of Defense, Special Briefing on the Nuclear Posture Review, January 9, 2002; www.globalsecurity. org/wmd/library/policy/dod/npr.htm and William M. Arkin, "Secret Plan Outlines the Unthinkable," Los Angeles Times, March 10, 2002. Representative Curt Weldon (R-PA), after talks with North Koreans, reported this "got their attention." "Congressional Delegation to North Korea Trip Report," Strategic Nuclear Forum, February 22, 2005.

13 Hiramatsu Kenji, "Leadup to the Signing of the Japan-D.P.R.K. Pyongyang Declaration," Gaiko Forum, Winter 2003, pp. 22-23.

14 Yoo Jae-Suk, "S. Korean President Urges Dialogue," Associated Press, January 14, 2002.

15 Statement to the Conference on Disarmament, January 24, 2002, http://www.state.gov/t/us/rm/7434.htm

16 Remarks to the Heritage Foundation, May 6, 2002, http://www. state.gov/t/us/rm9962.htm

17 Speech at West Point, June 1, 2002, http.//usinfo.state.gov/ topical/pol/02060110.htm

18 Bill Gertz, "Bush Case on Defense Plan Cites N. Korea," May 27, 2003, p. 1. On current operational plans, William Arkin "Not Just a Last Resort?" Washington Post, May 15, 2005, p. B-1.

19 KCNA, "Spokesman for D.P.R.K. Foreign Ministry Slams Bush's Accusation, January 31, 2002; Edith M. Lederer, "North Korea Takes Wait-and-See Tone," Associated Press, February 8, 2002.

20 Howard W. French, "South Korea Says That North Agrees to Resume U.S. Talks," New York Times, April 6, 2002, p. A-2. Lim also urged Kim Jong-il to resolve outstanding issues with Japan. Hasaba Kiyoshi, "Seoul's Kim Advised Kim Jong-il to Be Flexible on Japan," Asahi Shimbun, August 31, 2002.

21 KCNA, "Spokesman for D.P.R.K. Foreign Ministry on Resumption of D.P.R.K.-U.S. Talks," April 11, 2002.

22 Paul Eckert, "S. Korea Opposition Head Vows Tougher North Policy," Reuters, January 17, 2002.

23 Shin Yong-bae, "In U.S. Lee Attacks President's 'Sunshine Policy,'" Korea Herald, January 25, 2002.

24 Shin Yong-bae, "Cheney Sympathetic to Lee's 'Strategic' Engagement Policy,'" Korea Herald, January 26, 2002.

25 Ryu Jin, "GNP Leader Lee Uneasy Amid Party Confusion," Korea Times, February 9, 2002.

26 Lee Joo-hee, "News Analysis: GNP calling Truce with North Korea," May 6, 2004.

27 White House, Remarks by President Bush and President Kim Dae-jung in Press Availability, February 20, 2002.

28 Asahi Shimbun, "Analysis: N. Korea Offers an Olive Branch," February 14, 2002.

29 The White House, Remarks by Prime Minister Koizumi and President Bush in Joint Press Conference, February 18, 2002.

30 Paul Eckert, "North Korea Appears Ready for Talks," Reuters, April 30, 2002.

31 Secretary of State Powell, "Remarks at Asia Society Annual Dinner," New York, June 10, 2002.

32 Sakajiri Nobuyoshi, "U.S. Offer to N. Korea Still Alive," Asahi Shimbun, November 27, 2004.

33 Hwang Jang-jin, "Military Acknowledges Communications Blunder," Korea Herald, July 8, 2002; "The Truth about the West Sea Battle," www.kimsoft.com/2002/westsea2a.htm

34 Agence France Presse, "North Korea Vows to Push for Dialogue with South Korea," July 4, 2002.

35 Kim Ji-ho, "North Proposes Resumption of Dialogue with S. Korea," Korea Herald, July 26, 2002, p. 1.

36 Seymour N. Hersh, "The Cold Test," New Yorker, January 27, 2003. Cf., Walter Pincus, "N.Korea's Plans Were No Secret," Washington Post, February 1, 2003, p. A-1.

37 On U.S. failure to pick up signs of a summit, David Pilling, "Koizumi to Tread a Fine Line on His Visit to North Korea," Financial Times, September 16, 2002.

38 Ben Barber, "U.S. Weighs N. Korea Speech," Washington Times, August 22, 2002, p. 1.

39 Under Secretary of State John Bolton, "North Korea: A Shared Challenge to the U.S. and ROK," Speech to the Korean-American Association, Seoul, August 29, 2002.

40 KCNA, "Kim Jong-il's Answers to Questions Raised by President of Kyodo News Service," September 14, 2002.

41 Asahi Shimbun, "Koizumi: I Am Deeply Shocked By What I've Heard and I Strongly Protest," September 18, 2002.

42 Agence France Presse, "Kim Apologizes for Abductions of Japanese, Makes Missile Pledge, " September 17, 2002.

43 Associated Press, "Koizumi Urges Bush to Reopen Dialogue with North Korea, September 20, 2002.

44 Kyodo, "86% of Japanese Support Japan-N. Korea Summit Talks," September 19, 2002.

45 Howard W. French, "Japan Extends the Visit of 5 From North Korea," New York Times, October 25, 2002, p. A-10.

46 KCNA, "Conclusion of Non-Aggression Treaty Between D.P.R.K. and U.S. Called for," October 25, 2002.

47 Doug Struck, "North Korean Program Not Negotiable, U.S. Told N. Korea," Washington Post, October 20, 2002, p. A-18.

48 KCNA, "Spokesman for D.P.R.K. Foreign Ministry of D.P.R.K. Visit of Special Envoy of U.S. President," October 7, 2002.

49 It was Japan that discovered North Korea was trying to acquire aluminum tubes from Japanese suppliers. South Korea was also a major source of U.S. intelligence on enrichment. Sohn Suk-joo, "Sunshine Policy Accused of Soft-Pedaling on Tipoff About N.K.'s Nuke Program," Korea Times, October 21, 2002.

50 Hakoda Tetsuya, "Analysis: North Korea Plays Wild Card," Asahi Shimbun, October 18, 2002. Cf., Doug Struck, "Asian Allies Resist Bush Stands on North Korea," Washington Post, October 25, 2002.

51 Asahi Shimbun, "Undeterred, Koizumi to Push North Korea Ties," October 19, 2002. Others did not agree. Shin Nagahara, "North Korea Trip Poses Risks," Yomiuri Shimbun, May 21, 2004.

52 Asahi Shimbun, "Suddenly, Japan Has a Lot on Its Plate," October 19, 2002.

53 Guy Dinmore, "Heed Lesson of Iraq, U.S. Tells Iran, Syria, and North Korea," Financial Times, April 10, 2003, p. 4.

54 Korean Central News Agency, Statement of Foreign Ministry Spokesman Blasts UNSC's Discussion of Korean Nuclear Issue," April 6, 2003,

55 Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger, "Admiral Seeks Deterrent Force in Korea Crisis," New York Times, February 1, 2003, p. A-1.

56 Thom Shanker and David E. Sanger, "U.S. Bombers on Alert to Deploy As Warning to North Koreans," New York Times, February 4, 2003, p. A-1.

57 James Dao, "Bush Administration Defends Its Approach on North Korea," New York Times, February 7, 2003, A-13.

58 BBC News, Transcript: North Korea Interview, February 6, 2003.

59 James Dao, "Bush Urges Chinese President To Press North Korea on Arms," New York Times, February 8, 2003, p. A-10.

60 Chosun Ilbo, "USFK Redeployment Mulled,” February 14, 2003.

61 Glenn Kessler, "N. Korea Standoff Sent to UN Council," Washington Post, February 13, 2003, p. A-1.

62 Howard W. French, "U.S. Approach on North Korea Is Straining Alliances in Asia," New York Times, February 24, 2003, p. A-9.

63 James Dao, "Powell, in Asia, Is Dealt Setback on North Korea," New York Times, February 25, 2003, p. A-16.

64 Barbara Slavin, "U.S. Fears Spread of North Korea Nukes," USA Today, February 5, 2003.

65 David E. Sanger, "Administration Divided over North Korea," New York Times, April 21, 2003, p. A-15. North Korea specialists at the State Department vented their frustration with Kelly's instructions. "These talks will not last the scheduled three days," Jack Pritchard emailed his colleagues. "The North will walk out." His prediction proved correct. Glenn Kessler, "U.S. Has Shifting Script on N. Korea," Washington Post, December 7, 2003, p. A-25. Cf., U.S. Department of State, Daily Briefing, April 21, 2003.

66 Doug Struck, "U.S. Makes Concessions for N. Korean Negotiations," Washington Post, April 16, 2003.

67 Bill Gertz, "N. Korea Reiterates Plans for Fuel Rods," Washington Times, April 24, 2003, p. 1.

68 Glenn Kessler, "N. Korea Says It Has Nuclear Arms," Washington Post, April 25, 2003, p. A-1.

69 Ibid.

70 Kanako Takahara, "U.S. Seeks Japan's Help on Pyongyang," Japan Times, April 27, 2003.

71 Shin Yong-bae, "N.K.: Fuel Rod Reprocessing Finished," Korea Times, July 14, 2003. U.S. spy satellites had spotted trucks removing objects from the storage site at Yongbyon in January and steam rising from the reprocessing plant there in early April, but U.S. intelligence did not detect krypton gas emissions, telltale signs of reprocessing, until late April.

72 Seo Soo-min, "N.K., U.S. on Final Stretch of 'Game of Chicken,'" Korea Times, July 16, 2003.

73 Bruce B. Auster and Kevin Whitelaw, "Upping the Ante for Kim Jong-il," U.S. News & World Report, July 21, 2003.

74 Nicholas Kralev, "U.S. Asks Aid Barring Arms from Rogue States," Washington Times, June 5, 2003, p. 15.

75 Kim Ki-tae, "Jeong Calls on U.S. to Soften Stance on N.K.," October 2, 2003.

76 Gordon Fairclough, "A Surprise in Korean Crisis: Consensus," Wall Street Journal, June 9, 2003, p. A-16. The intelligence community did not share his assessment: U.S. Senate Select Intelligence Committee, World Wide Threat Briefing, February 11, 2003, pp. 218-19, declassified June 30, 2003.

77 John Bolton, "Dictatorship at the Crossroads," July 31, 2003.

78 "Spokesman for D.P.R.K. Foreign Ministry Slams U.S. Mandarin's Invective," August 2, 2003.

79 Paul Richter, "Administration Spurns N. Korea's Ban on Envoy," Los Angeles Times, August 5, 2003.

80 Asahi Shimbun, "Tongue-Tied Over North Korea Policy," May 29, 2003; Japan Times, "North Korea Not Facing Sanctions Soon: Koizumi," May 26, 2003.

81 Yomiuri Shimbun, "Government Wary Over Pressure on N. Korea," March 5, 2004.

82 KCNA, "Keynote Speeches Made at Six-Way Talks," August 29, 2003. A copy of the text of Kim's keynote address was obtained by JoongAng Ilbo, which published a synopsis of it on August 28. Ser Myo-ja, "North Korea Details Its Plan to End Crisis."

83 Agence France Presse, "North Korea Rejects U.S. Charges on Enriched Uranium," August 28, 2003.

84 Peter Slevin and John Pomfret, "N. Korea Threatens Nuclear Arms Test," Washington Post, August 29, 2003, p. A-1. Cf., Glenn Kessler, "U.S. Moderates Position on Incentives for North Korea," Washington Post, September 5, 2003, p. A-18.

85 Seo Soo-min, "U.S., N.K. Agree to Avoid Confrontation," Korea Times, August 29, 2003.

86 Takeshi Sato, "Six Nations to Continue Dialogue Amid North's Threats," Kyodo, August 29, 2003. "Seoul, Washington, and Tokyo favored the term 'parallel,' but Pyongyang, Beijing, and Moscow insisted on 'synchronized,'" according to Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan of South Korea. Seo Hyun-jin, "North Unlikely to Boycott Talks,” Korea Herald, September 1, 2003.

87 Taro Karasaki, "It Wasn't Easy But Talks on Abduction Are Alive Again," Asahi Shimbun, August 30, 2003.

88 Seo Hyun-jin, "U.S., N.K. Lock Horns in Talks," August 28, 2003.

89 Joseph Kahn, "Chinese Aide Says U.S. Is Obstacle in Korean Talks," New York Times, September 2, 2003, p. A-3; Joseph Kahn, "U.S. Could Stall Korea Talks, Chinese Say," New York Times, September 3, 2003, p. A-8.

90 White House, "Roundtable Interview of the President by the Press Pool," Aboard Air Force One, October 22, 2003. Cf., Olivier Knox, "Bush Seeks Alternative to Pact with North Korea," Agence France Presse, October 19, 2003; Choi Hoon, "Bush Tells Roh North Could Get Assurances," JoongAng Ilbo, October 20, 2003; Hishinuma Takao, "Bush Hints at Written Vows on N. Korea," Yomiuri Shimbun, October 21, 2002; Interview with Secretary of State Powell, "Meet the Press," NBC-TV, October 26, 2003.

91 Kyodo, "Koizumi, Bush Reaffirm Cooperation on Iraq, North Korea, October 17, 2003; Anthony Faiola and Joohee Cho, "South Korea Pledges More Troops for Iraq," Washington Post, October 18, 2003, p. A-19; and Korea Herald, "U.S., Korea Issue Security Statement After Talks," October 21, 2003.

92 Warren Strobel, "Cheney at Center of Struggle to Manage N. Korea Talks," Knight-Ridder News Service, December 20, 2003.

93 KCNA, "U.S. Urged to Accept Simultaneous Action and Package Solution," December 1, 2003; Yoichi Kosukegawa, "Six-Way Talks on N. Korea Seen Difficult Before Year-End," Kyodo News Service, December 5, 2003; Kyodo, "Draft to Say U.S. Willing to Open N. Korea Normalization Talks," December 8, 2003; David E. Sanger, "U.S. and 2 Allies Agree on a Plan for North Korea," New York Times, December 8, 2003, p. A-1; Warren P. Strobel, "U.S. Acting Tough with N. Korea," Philadelphia Inquirer, December 21, 2003; Agence France Presse, "China Tells U.S.: Be More Flexible and Practical on North Korea," December 15, 2003.

94 KCNA, "Spokesman of D.P.R.K. Foreign Ministry on Issue of Resumption of Six-Way Talks," December 9, 2003.

95 KCNA, "U.S. Urged to Accept D.P.R.K.-Proposed Simultaneous Package Solution," December 15, 2003.

96 KCNA, "D.P.R.K. Willing to Freeze Its Nuclear Activities Based on Graphite-Moderated Reactors," January 12, 2003.

97 KCNA, "Spokesman for the D.P.R.K. FM on U.S. Professor's Visit to Yongbyon Nuclear Facility," January 10, 2004.

98 Keith Luse and Frank Jannuzi, "North Korea: Status Report on Nuclear Program, Humanitarian Issues, and Economic Reforms," A Staff Trip Report to the Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, 108th Cong., 2nd Sess., February 23, 2004.

99 Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly, testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, March 2, 2004.

100 Jack Kim, "South Eyes 3-Stage Plan to End North Korea Crisis," Reuters, February 23, 2004.

101 Philip P. Pan and Glenn Kessler, "N. Korea Says U.S. Demand Is Stalling Nuclear Talks," Washington Post, February 27, 2004, p. A-24.

102 Yonhap, Press Conference by Kim Gye-Gwan, February 28, 2004.

103 Glenn Kessler, "Bush Signals Patience on North Korea Is Waning," Washington Post, March 4, 2004, p. A-14.

104 Reuters, "Powell Appears to Dangle Carrot to North Korea," March 2, 2004.

105 Robert Carlin, "Assessing the Second Round of Six-Party Talks."

106 PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "Chairman's Statement for the Second Round of Six-Party Talks," February 28, 2004. Cf., Taro Karasaki, "Talks End with Little Headway Made," Asahi Shimbun, March 1, 2004.

107 KCNA, "D.P.R.K. Foreign Ministry Spokesman on the Six-Party Talks," February 29, 2004.

108 Barbara Demick, "N. Korean Nuclear Issue Simmers on a Back Burner," Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2004.

109 Barry Schweid, "North Korea to Consider U.S. Demand," Associated Press, March 2, 2004.

110 Chosun Ilbo, "Bush Meets with FM Ban," March 3, 2004.

111 Jack Kim, "North's Proposal to Discuss Energy Rebuffed," Reuters, March 3, 2004.

112 Chosun Ilbo, “Government Makes Public Future Security Policy," March 4, 2004.

113 Taro Karasaki, "Analysis: Kim's Abduction Statement Puzzles Tokyo," Asahi Shimbun, February 27, 2004.

114 Yonhap, Press Conference by Kim Gye-Gwan, February 28, 2004. Japanese press accounts quoted the first sentence but not the second.

115 Japan Times, "Koizumi Can Get Abductee Kin: Pyongyang," May 10, 2004. Among the eight relatives was an American, Charles Jenkins, who was wanted by U.S. military authorities for defecting to the North. On April 29 Japan asked the United States to pardon him. Japan Times, "Japan Asks U.S. to Pardon Abductee's American Husband," May 16, 2004; Yomiuri Shimbun, "Government to Seek Pardon for Jenkins; U.S. Immunity from Prosecution Desired If American Comes to Japan," May 16, 2004.

116 Kanako Takahara, "Nation Waits As Koizumi Jets to Pyongyang," Japan Times, May 22, 2004. Koizumi had originally {missing word here?] south the meeting in March but was postponed at Pyongyang's behest. Yomiuri Shimbun, "Koizumi's Long Road to Pyongyang Talks, May 25, 2004.

117 David Pilling, "N. Korea 'Ready to Abandon Nuclear Arms' – Koizumi," Financial Times, June 8, 2004, p. 8.

118 Yomiuri Shumbun, "Abductees' Kin Arrive in Japan; 5 Reunited with Parents," May 23, 2004. The North agreed to allow Japanese forensic experts to be involved.

119 KCNA, "Report on Meeting and Talks between Kim Jong-il and Koizumi,” May 22, 2004.

120 Won-Jae Park, "Bush, 'Kim Jong-il Is a Liar,’" Dong-A Ilbo, June 16, 2004.

121 David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, "Evidence Is Cited Linking Koreans to Libya Uranium," New York Times, May 23, 2004, p. A-1.

122 Terashima Jitsuro, "New Asian Focus," Asahi Shimbun, May 31, 2004.

123 Yomiuri Shimbun, "Koizumi to Tell North Korea He Will Try to Normalize Ties," May 19, 2004; Kyodo, "Koizumi to Work toward Normalizing N. Korea Ties in One Year," July 2, 2004.

124 Asahi Shimbun, "Time Bomb Placed at Official's Home," September 11, 2004; Junko Takahashi, "Ishihara Unrepentant Over Bomb Barb," Asahi Shimbun, September 12, 2004.

125 David Cyranoski, "DNA Is Burning Issue As Japan and Korea Clash Over Kidnaps," Nature, February 3, 2005

126 Testimony of Secretary of State James Kelly to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, July 15, 2004.

127 Kyodo, Interview with Jeong Se-hyun, June 28, 2004.

128 Yonhap, "Full Text of D.P.R.K. Spokesman's 25 June News Conference at Six-Way Talks," June 25, 2004. Cf., Chairman's Statement of Third Round of Six-Party Talks," Xinhua, June 26, 2004.

129 Dafna Linzer, "U.S. Misled Allies about Nuclear Export," Washington Post, March 20, 2005, p. A-1.

130 Glenn Kessler, "Rice: U.S. and Allies Discussed 'Options' Against N. Korea," Washington Post, March 22, 2005, p. A-13; Sakajiri Nobuyoshi, "U.S. Bid to Staunch North's Drug Funds," Asahi Shimbun, March 19, 2005.

131 Lindsay Beck, "Pressure Mounting on North Korea for Nuclear Talks," Reuters, March 23, 2005. On the form of proposed U.S. pressure, Sakajiri Nouyoshi, "U.S. Bid to Staunch North's Drug Funds," Asahi Shimbun, March 19, 2005.

132 Glenn Kessler, "Signs Stir Concern North Korea Might Test Nuclear Bomb," Washington Post, April 23, 2005, p. A-13; Reuben Staines, "Hill Hints at Tougher Tactics on N. Korea," Korea Times, April 24, 2005. Cf., David E. Sanger, "White House May Go to UN Over North Korean Shipments," New York Times, April 25, 2005, p. A-13.

133 Glenn Kessler, "China Rejected U.S. Suggestions to Cut Off Oil to Pressure North Korea," Washington Post, May 7, 2005, p. A-11.

134 Reuben Staines, "Intelligence Chief Dispels Nuke Test Rumors," Korea Times, May 13, 2005.

135 Douglas Jehl, "Tug of War: Intelligence vs. Politics," New York Times, May 8, 2005, p. 12.

136 Chosun Ilbo, "U.S. More Dangerous Than N.K.? Most Seem to Think So," January 12, 2004.

137 Howard W. French, "South Korea Agrees to Send Troops to Iraq," New York Times, April 5, 2003, p. B-13.

138 Yonhap, "Role of U.S. Forces Korea in Terms of Northeast Asia," Vantage Point, 28, no. 4 (April 2005), p. 15.

139 Yonhap, "S. Korea to Begin Supplying Electricity to N.K. Complex Tuesday," March 13, 2005.

140 Chosun Ilbo, "Roh Hints at New East Asian Order," March 22, 2005; Chosun Ilbo, "NSC Official Backs Korea's Break with 'Camp Diplomacy,'" March 30, 2005. Despite criticism from the GNP, it played well with the public: 75% of South Koreans saw it as "appropriate." Lee Joo-hee, "Majority of Public Backs Korea 'Balancer’ Role," Korea Herald, April 11, 2005.

141 Press briefing by Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung, Chosun Ilbo, April 4, 2004.

142 Jung Sung-ki, “GNP Leader Requests U.S. Envoy to N.K.," Korea Times, March 18, 2005.

143 Shim Jae-yun, "Roh Calls on Japan to Compensate World War II Victims," Korea Times, March 1, 2005; Chosun Ilbo, "Roh Warns of 'Diplomatic War' with Japan," March 23, 2005.

144 Ellen Nakashima and Anthony Faiola, "Japanese Leader Apologizes for the Past," Washington Post, April 22, 2005, p. A-13; Raymond Bonner and Norimitsu Onishi, "China and Japan Leaders Pledge to Improve Relations," New York Times, April 24, 2005, p. 20.

145 President Bush, Address to annual convention of the Newspaper Association of America, April 21, 2004.

146 Joel Brinkley, "China Balks at Pressing the North Koreans," New York Times, March 21, 2005, p. A-10.

147 Aoki Naoko, "China's Hu Underscores China's Commitment to 6-Way Talks," Kyodo, March 23, 2005.

148 KCNA, "D.P.R.K. Foreign Ministry Spokesman on Denuclearization of Korea," March 31, 2005.

149 Chosun Ilbo, "China Raps Security Council Threat to N.K.," April 27, 2005.

150 White House Press Secretary, Press Conference of the President, April 28, 2005.

151 Lee Joo-hee, "Washington-N.K. War of Words Will Not Resolve Crisis," Korea Herald, May 7, 2005.

152 Ota Masaktsu, "Draft U.S. Paper Allows Commanders to Seek Preemptive Nuke Strikes," Kyodo, May 1, 2005.

153 Secretary Condoleezza Rice, Remarks with French Foreign Minister Michel Bernier After Meeting, May 2, 2005.

154 Joo Sang-min, "Seoul, Washington Attempt to Revive Operation Plan for N. Korean Crisis," Korea Herald, May 3, 2005.

155 Korea Times, "Japan, U.S. to Seek Other Options on N. Korea," May 4, 2005.

156 Joseph Kahn and David E. Sanger, "China Rules Out Using Sanctions on North Korea," New York Times, May 11, 2005, p. A-1.

157 Kato Yoichi, "Armitage Snubs Move for East Asia Community," Asahi Shimbun, May 2, 2005.

158 Barton Gellman and Dafna Linzer, "Unprecedented Peril Forces Tough Calls," Washington Post, October 26, 2006, p. A-1.