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US Expert Doubts North Korea Will Dismantle Its Nuclear Arms December 16, 2006

Posted by notapundit in US News.
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WASHINGTON (AP)–North Korea will never agree to dismantle its nuclear weapons but could consent at some point to accept a cap on its program as part of ongoing international negotiations, a former National Security Council official said Friday.

Gary Samore, an arms control expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the U.S. lacks the leverage to enforce nuclear disarmament on the North Koreans.

Speaking to reporters, Samore said neither China nor South Korea show any inclination to cut off trade and humanitarian ties with Pyongyang, thus ensuring that its minimal needs for survival will be met regardless of U.S. pressure for disarmament.

North Korea “will agree to the principle of disarmament but will attach conditions that would put disarmament off until the indefinite future,” Samore said.

Samore, who worked at the NSC during the Clinton administration, spoke as the U.S. was preparing to join North and South Korea, China, Japan and Russia in Beijing to discuss the disarmament question for the first time in 13 months.

The best possible outcome for the U.S. at the talks, Samore said, would be a North Korean agreement to suspend operations of its five-kilowatt nuclear reactor in exchange for a resumption of U.S. shipments of heavy oil.

Officials said the talks will open Sunday night instead of Monday, as previously planned.
North Korea has accepted nuclear disarmament as a legitimate goal. In September 2005, it joined its five partners in agreeing in a statement of principles to the “verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner.”

Samore, although he sees that goal as unattainable because of North Korean intransigence, said he believes the six-party process is worth preserving because Pyongyang could be induced to place limits on its program in exchange for concessions. Without the international pressure, the North could push ahead with its program without restraint and perhaps export nuclear materials.

Samore believes that North Korea, like many countries, has its eye on the 2008 U.S. presidential elections. He said North Korean diplomats could “go through the motions” of negotiating in the six-party format, stretching out the process in hopes that the next U.S. president might be more flexible than George W. Bush.

He pointed out that the establishment of four working groups under the six-nation umbrella will give North Korea ample opportunity to employ stalling tactics.

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