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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

North Korean Quarantine?

The New York Times:

The Bush administration, facing a series of recent provocations from North Korea, is debating a plan to seek a United Nations resolution empowering all nations to intercept shipments in or out of the country that may contain nuclear materials or components, say senior administration officials and diplomats who have been briefed on the proposal. The resolution envisioned by a growing number of senior administration officials would amount to a quarantine of North Korea, though, so far at least, President Bush's aides are not using that word. It would enable the United States and other nations to intercept shipments in international waters off the Korean Peninsula and to force down aircraft for inspection. But, said several American and Asian officials, the main purpose would be to give China political cover to police its border with North Korea, the country's lifeline for food and oil. That border is now largely open for shipments of arms, drugs and counterfeit currencies, North Korea's main source of hard currency.
It is always difficult to know what is really going on in the realm of international diplomacy. Most officially leaked statements tend to be bluffs, positioning and spin. This could be a ploy to let North Korea know we are serious, and they need to start to negotiate with good faith. It could be a tradeoff to China to get them to apply more pressure. China has always been the key to any peaceful resolution of the North Korean problem and most of our diplomatic efforts have been focused on getting them involved. Lastly, of course, it could be that the Bush administration feels that they seriously need to start inderdicting more of North Korea's shipping. (via Smash)


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