As Guam Diary has continually noted, events are going in the directwhon of discussions of matters on a divided Korean peninsula, mucgh to the distaste of the hard liners in Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo dream of nothing but regime change or the complete collapse of the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea aka North Korea].
Instructive is today's article in 'Asian Times Online' by Dr. Kim Myong chol on Pyongyang's 'plan c' for breaking the logjam on denuclearising the Korean tpeninsula, Pyongyang's returning to the six party talks in Beijing, and the Obama administration's opening direct discussions with the DPRK. 'Plan c' is a 'bomb' in itself; its object is Washington's 'de jure' recognition of North Korea as a nuclear power.
For those who know of Mr. Kim, he is a Korean born and living in Japan, and who is called the 'DPRK's unofficial spokesman'. His utterances are never flights of fancy but herald the broad outline of North Korea's policy. So what he does say, should be read with an attentive eye, to say the very least, not dismissed out of hand. He is signaling president Obama, to state the obvious.
President Bush tacitly acknowledged the nuclear status of Pyongyang after it exploded a nuclear device. He immediately reversed his long standing hard line policy towards North Korea, quieted down his talk of regime change, and stopped twisting the North Koreans' tail by demeaning Kim Jong il. In fact, he opened more contacts, admittedly guarded and indirect with Pyongyang.
Kim Myong chol defines the US' 'de facto' recognition of the DPRK's advance in nuclear technology to citizen Bill Clinton's mission of mercy in July 2009. Such shading of fact has more to do with the DPRK's dislike of Mr. Bush. Weeding through Dr. Kim's article, his attention does dwell on the domestic scene in the US; he weighs its domestic policies which have eaten into president Obama's [BHO] poll numbers; he reviews with a longer view the sad story of DPRK US relations, mentioning the long forgot[for Americans] 'Pueblo incident'. In his attempt to flatter BHO, he suggests that the American president, now a Nobel Peace laureat, sweep aside anyt barriers by visiting Pyongyang, a la Nixon's trip to China in 1972, and what's more admitting the DPRK into the nuclear club of 8.
On the last point, Mr. Kim, astute student of the American scenery, misjudges the 'public mind', meaning not only the American people but and especially those diplomats and CIA analysts past and present, think tank pundits, and members of the chattering class who favour more openness toward the DPRK. Mr. Kim knows them, since they are the very people who maintain channels to North Korea, on one hand; on the other, he misreads them.
Consider the opinion of former diplomat and current president of New York's Korea Society, Evans Revere, and Gordon Flake, Korea expert and member of the Mansfield Foundation. These two men spoke at a panel on North Korea at New York's Japan Society at the beginning of August 2009. Both Revere and Flake to varying degrees, are for keeping channels open to Pyongyang. Nonetheless, on the matter of recognising the DPRK as a nuclear power, both bristled, and both were of one mind: 'totally unacceptable'. And that is the feeling, visceral it seems, of friends of North Korea.
So, in a way, Dr. Kim is proposing a maximal position of the DPRK. Obviously, it is an agenda item when direct talks between the US and DRPK take place. Yet, the suggestion is enough for the so called good guys on contact with Pyongyang, to take fright and run. And since they have BHO's ear more or less, to warn against any action on the matter.
Guam Diary has the feeling that the DPRK has always sought legitimacy, especially from the US and its allies. Were BHO willing to grant 'de jure' rights on the nuclear issue, the DPRK would renounce its nuclear programme and ambitions, much in the same way Libya's Colonel Qaddafi did. Of course, this requires diplomatic recognition, among other agenda items. Furthermore, Pyongyang's thirst for a place in the sun of normal nations is such that its admission to the comity of countries, is worth denuclearising the Korean peninsula.
BHO won't go to Pyongyang. Would Kim Jong il risk the trip to Washington?