Korea: December 11, 2003

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North Korea is dragging out negotiations, but the basic deal offered is still pretty much the same. North Korea would dismantle its missile and nuclear weapons programs, and allow inspections to verify this. In return, enough economic aid would be delivered to keep the communist economy going. Currently, the North Korean armed forces gets about 30 percent of the GDP, and already stands accused to taking some of the food aid North Korea has been getting over the last decade. It's also uncertain if the communists could stay in power if they shifted, as the Chinese are urging them, to a market economy. Historically, a market economy requires more freedom than North Koreans currently have. But the Chinese communists point out that China has prospered with a market economy, and the communists still in charge. But North Korea has South Korea to worry about. For decades, communist propaganda in the north has portrayed the south as poverty stricken. But the south is more than ten times as prosperous as northerners. Meanwhile, food aid is way down, as are oil shipments and it is Winter in North Korea. And the North Korean generals show no signs of compromising on their own budget. And the North Koreans are also unwilling to accept the kind of inspections the US is looking for. Such inspections would reveal too much of what's going on inside the North Korean armed forces, especially the recent declines in readiness and discipline.

 

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