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Talks achieve new accord... another US retreat?
THE POTENTIAL breakthrough reached in Beijing last week in talks over North Korea's nuclear programme, involves significant concessions by US imperialism.
Laurence Coates, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI, Sweden)
Under the agreement hammered out at the 'six-party talks' hosted by China, and also involving North and South Korea, the US, Russia and Japan, the North Korean regime will receive what most commentators agree is 'generous' energy compensation - one million tonnes of heavy fuel oil - plus other economic and diplomatic concessions.
In return, Kim Jong-Il's regime has agreed to first suspend, and then - under a regime of international inspections - dismantle its nuclear weapons programme.
Since a previous agreement brokered by the Clinton Administration collapsed in 2002, North Korea is believed to have built up to 12 nuclear bombs. Four months ago it staged an underground nuclear bomb test.
In cash terms the deal is worth about $300 million to the crisis-torn North Korean regime. The Bush Administration has also agreed to remove North Korea from its list of "state-sponsors of terrorism" and enter one-on-one talks on 'normalising' diplomatic relations - a crucial sticking point for Kim Jong-Il's regime, given that the Korean war of 1950-53 (fought between the armed forces of North Korea and China on one side and South Korea and the US on the other) ended without a formal peace agreement.
However much Washington's spin-doctors attempt to disguise it as a 'victory', in reality the deal - if it holds - marks a significant retreat by US imperialism, now chastened by what could be called the 'Iraq syndrome', a modern, even more debilitating version of the 'Vietnam syndrome' which shaped US policy for two decades.
As Newsweek concluded, "[Bush] is adjusting to the harsh realities of diplomacy - and straying even further from the ideology of regime change."
It is still too soon to say if the deal reached in Beijing will hold when, as yet, none of the signatory governments have ratified it. Stumbling blocks include North Korea's alleged uranium enrichment scheme - the current deal applies only to its plutonium programme. Japan may also nullify the accord, with its Prime Minister Shinzo Abe insisting North Korea resolves the cases of Japanese citizens kidnapped by its spies in past decades. Abe, a hawkish nationalist, has used the Korean crisis to beef up Japan's military capabilities and wants to redraft its 'pacifist' constitution.
For workers and youth in northeast Asia, as elsewhere, there can be no trust whatsoever in the governments and capitalists of the region to solve this crisis or guarantee peace.
The Committee for a Workers' International unreservedly condemns the provocative policy of Bush and the US, which has created the current crisis.
However, Kim Jong-Il's regime cannot provide a way forward either: the overriding aim of North Korea's ruling group is its own survival, with its privileges intact; regardless of on what basis this is achieved.
Socialists stand for:
- A nuclear-free Korean peninsula and a nuclear-free world.
- Imperialism out of the Korean peninsula - let the Korean people decide their future.
- The struggle for a united Korea, on a democratic and voluntary basis, and an end to imperialist domination. This is inextricably linked to the struggle to end capitalism by taking over the chaebol conglomerates [big business] in the South and to overthrow the dictatorship in the North, and by spreading the struggle for democratic socialism regionally and internationally.
This is an edited version. The full text can be read on www.socialistworld.net
In The Socialist 22 February 2007:
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