Friday, April 19, 2013

North Korea Tones Down Language, Giving Hope for Dialogue

I cannot emphasize enough that if we have dialogue it will be the result of two conditions:  one is that the regime believes it has or will be able to achieve its objectives for the current crisis that it has initiated and perpetuated over these past months.  The second condition is the demonstration and of the strength and resolve of the ROK/US Alliance.  Although counterintuitive to some, the Alliance military actions likely had a very significant effect on the regime and its decision making calculus when it determined that the Alliance is not going to blink or bow to the political opposition who would follow a path of quasi-appeasement.  In actuality the military actions provided the foundation for Secretary Kerry and President Park to make their statements regarding dialogue and potentially move this crisis to a new level.

North Korea Tones Down Language, Giving Hope for Dialogue

Published: April 18, 2013

SEOUL, South Korea — By North Korean standards, the invective issued over the past week has bordered on civil. Instead of near daily threats of nuclear annihilation for the “nest of evil” in the United States and promises to “press the button,” the North in recent days has grumbled over a “crafty ploy” and “cunning trick” by America and its allies to strip the North of its nuclear arsenal.

The United States and South Korea, meanwhile, have made a change of their own: putting a new focus on offering talks after weeks of meeting North Korean provocations with harsh warnings that included deploying nuclear-capable stealth bombers on a practice run over South Korea.

Security analysts in South Korea and the United States expressed cautious optimism this week that the shift in tone, however understated, is a sign that after weeks of escalating threats that raised fears of armed conflict, both sides might be ready to calm tensions.

“I wouldn’t say the crisis has passed, but maybe we’re in a less dangerous phase,” said Evans J. R. Revere, a former State Department expert on Asia who is now senior director of the Albright Stonebridge Group, a consulting firm that specializes in Korea, China and Japan. “The possibility of a serious miscalculation is not as great as a few days ago.”

He attributed North Korea’s reduced bombast partly to what he called their position “at the top of the rhetorical escalatory ladder — where do you go after you threaten to nuke Los Angeles, Austin, Texas and Washington? The place to go after that is to carry out your threats, and they are not in the position to do that.”

Even those like Mr. Revere who express hope of at least a short-term quieting, emphasize that too little is known about North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong-un, to predict what could happen next. He could launch a missile test as policy makers in South Korea and the United States have expected, and some South Korean officials privately fear the softening of the North’s tone could be a ploy meant to bolster those in the United States and South Korea who are pushing for a more lenient stance toward the North.

The offers of dialogue by the United States and South Korea, while showing some softening, also expose the gulf in expectations between them and North Korea.

The Obama administration continues to demand that Pyongyang commit to giving up itsnuclear weapons before negotiations on longer-term solutions to decades of animosity — a starting point the North has rejected repeatedly, including on Thursday.

The South Koreans, “along with their American master, are still talking such nonsense as ‘denuclearization’ in the North in a bid to make a bargain over its nukes,” a spokesman for the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said. “They would be well advised to drop such daydream.”

The North has also put forward its own terms for talks, including the lifting of United Nations sanctions for North Korea’s recent nuclear and missile tests, a precondition the United States is unlikely to accept.
(Continued at the link below)

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