Tuesday, April 07, 2009

What next on North Korean nuclear disarmament talks?

Remember that 3 a.m. phone call that many warned would catch Obama off guard? Well, President Obama’s came at 4:30 a.m. notifying him that North Korea had fired off a long-distance missile.

Two days after North Korea’s missile flew over Japan, the U.N. Security Council remains divided over how to respond.

One problem: North Korea has a history of using its military threat to squeeze concessions from major powers. And North Korea might boycott the six-way nuclear disarmament talks if it is punished. So the sputtering six-party talks are likely headed for more delay.

Experts say the missile launch changed the dynamics by increasing the North's leverage in the discussions, which could lead Pyongyang to try to water down some existing obligations and resist calls from the five dialogue partners to agree to a nuclear inspection system, if it shows up at all.

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