Wednesday, December 05, 2007

N. Korean nuke shutdown 'going well'

I swear, if this sort of thing keeps up, I'm going to end up an optimist.

North Korean efforts to disable its plutonium-producing reactor are going well but the work needs to continue if deadlines are to be met, a top U.S. nuclear envoy said Wednesday.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill spent three days in North Korea and visited the Yongbyon nuclear complex, becoming the highest-level American official to go there.

"The disablement activities are going well and on schedule," Hill told reporters before leaving Pyongyang and heading to Beijing. "I'm satisfied with the results."

"But we have to keep working because we have more to do to meet our deadlines," said Hill, who also met his North Korean counterpart, Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan.

North Korea had promised to complete the disabling by the end of the year, but South Korean nuclear envoy Chun Yung-woo said last week it would take longer to remove about 8,000 spent fuel rods from the reactor.
Funny thing about all this; it seems that engagement, well, works. Hill is (according to the USA Today) the "first high-level U.S. official to visit the secretive country in more than four years", and the United States had been notorious about keeping all ties cut. Hill visited the Hermit Kingdom about six months ago, and within less than a month they had a denuclearization deal.

Which reconfirms what I believed about North Korea: the bomb wasn't intended as the core of some mad scheme to blow up Tokyo or whatever people had been dreaming up, but as a goad to get the United States to stop pretending that Pyongyang was going to collapse any time now, and start acting like grown-ups about the peninsula. Once that had been accomplished, Kim was probably happy to ditch the damned thing anyway.

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