Thursday, June 22, 2006

North Korean Intentions Hazy, American Intentions Clear

That both the New York Times and the Washington Post have been so supportive of the Bush administration's statements regarding North Koreans suggests that whatever were the North's intentions, America is for the moment united against their threats. The U.S. has now emphatically rejected overtures from the North that they would cancel the launch in return for bilateral talks.

Of course, the whether there will be a launch is as unclear as the North Korean's intentions. The U.S. is certain that the preparations for a launch are nearly complete; the South Koreans are not so certain a launch is imminent. Much depends on whether the missile launch was bluster to establish talks with the U.S.; an advertisement for it's missile capability -- and recall that Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, noted armaments consumer and aspiring dealer, plans to visit both North Korea and Iran this summer; an attempt to shore up Kim Jong-il's support; or even a strategic ploy by the Chinese. Whichever of the above is the primary motive will determine whether a launch will occur; not all of the above can be answered by the U.S. agreeing to bilateral talks.

If the launch threat is part of some ploy by the Chinese, then the next step in that ploy has already been taken. China has now expressed "concern" over the possible launch. After being pressed by the U.S. to urge the North Koreans to back down, the Chinese foreign minister Jiang Yu said at a regular briefing for the press, "We hope all parties can do more in the interest of regional peace and stability." Perhaps this was the point of the launch threat all along: to force the U.S. to come to the Chinese for help.

The sun will rise in North Korea about 5 hours from the time this is posted, and the forecast for Friday in North Korea is for clear skies.

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