Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Preoccupied Obama criticized over North Korea policy

The fact is there are too many crises, foreign and domestic, for the Administration to manage.  The best course of action is for the Administration to ensure the strength of the ROK/US Alliance to provide the foundation for President Park to continue the execution of her policy of trustpolitik.  The US is just not going to be able to effectively deal with north Korea at this time given all that is on the Administration's plate.  But this is a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation.  If we do we are likely to again be taken to the cleaners by the Kim Family Regime as we have in the past because we are so distracted.  If we do not we will be blamed as the north continues its blackmail diplomacy and the development of its nuclear program.  If I could make one recommendation if would be for the President to sign a finding to target the north's financial activities to pressure the regime and force it to deal with the ROK, undercut the legitimacy of the regime among the elite as it will lose the ability to provide luxury goods, and perhaps most important the loss of access to its illicit funding activities will hinder the development of its nuclear program.  

Of course as a superpower we should be able to manage all these crises but apparently at this time we are unable to.

Preoccupied Obama criticized over North Korea policy

By MATTHEW PENNINGTON
Associated Press
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Published: October 29, 2013
North_Korea_NKorea_nuke_satellite102913AP
This Oct. 9, 2013 satellite image taken by Astrium, and annotated and distributed by 38 North shows the Sohae site where North Korea launched a long-range rocket into space in December 2012. U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies said Monday, Oct. 28, 2013, North Korea is conducting major construction at its main missile launch site, apparently to accommodate larger rockets and new mobile missiles.
AP PHOTO/ASTRIUM - 38 NORTH
WASHINGTON — Preoccupied with domestic woes and high-stakes Mideast diplomacy, the Obama administration has little time these days to focus on the ominous signs that its enemy North Korea is advancing its nuclear weapons program.
Within the past two months the secretive nation has restarted a reactor that can produce plutonium for bombs. Recent satellite photos also appear to indicate new tunneling at its underground nuclear test site and major construction at its main missile launch site.
The Obama administration, like Congress, is deeply skeptical about negotiating with the North, which says it wants to restart aid-for-disarmament talks. The U.S. has opted to tighten sanctions on Kim Jong Un's regime, while also pressing China to exert more pressure on its troublesome ally.
But the administration's own first appointee as envoy to North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, and former Clinton administration negotiator, Robert Gallucci, said the U.S. government has not had direct contact with a senior North Korean official for more than a year and that the current diplomatic impasse only buys time for Pyongyang to develop its nuclear program further.
The former envoys said that in informal talks last month, North Korean officials told them they were willing to negotiate about their nuclear weapons program. "Whatever risks might be associated with new talks, they are less than those that come with doing nothing," Bosworth and Gallucci wrote Monday in the International New York Times.
Coming from Bosworth in particular, that's pointed criticism. On his watch, the administration's engagement with Pyongyang was very cautious — a policy dubbed "strategic patience" — and actually drew criticism from then Sen. John Kerry who favored more active efforts to talk with the reclusive regime.
But the United States appears unlikely to re-enter talks with North Korea anytime soon, although Kerry, now secretary of state, has kept that possibility open if Pyongyang takes concrete steps to show it is serious about denuclearization.
For one thing, the administration has its hands full. On foreign policy, it is embroiled in diplomacy on Iran's nuclear program and the Syrian civil war — adopting moderate stances that have rankled some of its allies in the Mideast. It's also fending off anger from allies in the West, such as Germany, France and Spain over spying allegations.
On the domestic front, President Barack Obama has lurched from a budget-standoff that sparked a 16-day partial government shutdown and brought the U.S. within a whisker of debt default, to damage limitation over the botched roll-out of his landmark health care policy.
That leaves little time, or perhaps political appetite, to chance the administration's arm at another round of diplomacy with Kim Jong Un, whose government spoiled the last round in spring 2012 by launching a rocket into space — what the U.S. regarded as a test of ballistic missile technology that could potentially threaten America. Then this February, the North conducted an atomic test and later threatened pre-emptive nuclear strikes on the U.S. when it led the international effort to tighten sanctions.
Now North Korea says it wants to restart multi-nation nuclear talks, but is resisting any preconditions and is asking for the U.S. during those talks to conclude a peace treaty to replace the temporary armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.
Bosworth and Gallucci are urging the administration to relax its requirement that "North Korea meet its demands before any dialogue begins" — a reference to Washington's desire to see a freeze in the North's nuclear and missile programs before returning to the six-nation talks, that also include China, Japan, Russia and South Korea.
(Continued at the link below)

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