North Korea has repeatedly agreed to junk its nuclear weapons provided the US does three things:
1. deal directly with Pyongyang, which Washington refuses to do;
2. provide security guarantees that the US will not attack North Korea;
3. provide economic aid. The Bush Administration’s hard-line neoconservatives refuse to ‘validate’ North Korea’s totalitarian regime through direct talks.
South Korea’s biggest fears are a US-North Korean war that would devastate it; and an economic implosion of North Korea sending millions of starving refugees to south. So Seoul keeps North Korea on life support, while trying to calm American militancy.
Japan wants to deter a united Korea as long as possible, rightly fearing it would one day constitute a major economic and military threat.
One thing is clear: money, lots of it, not war, is the most effective way of making North Korea behave.
Bribery is always far, far cheaper than war.
[Excerpt of an article by Eric S Margolis, a veteran US journalist and contributing foreign editor of the Toronto Sun]