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Institute for Far Eastern Studies
Published in Asian Perspective, 29(2) 2005: 231-46.
A successful Six Party Talks on the North Korean nuclear programs can serve the interests of all the participants, including North Korea and the United States. But, contrary to the Bush administration’s expectations, ‘success’ cannot come in the form of a ‘coalition of the willing’ that forces North Korea to agree to America’s unilateral demands. As they stand now, the Talks are a coalition of the unwilling. Two conditions need to be met for success. First, North Korea must hold back from actually testing a nuclear device, because once a country tests, it is likely to be much more difficult to convince its leadership to give up its nuclear programs. Second, both North Korea and the United States must be prepared to engage in the give and take necessary to achieve a peaceful, negotiated conclusion to the crisis. The other four participants (China, Russia, South Korea and Japan) must convince the United States and North Korea to modify their initial negotiating positions sufficiently to achieve agreement.