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Understanding the North Korean Negotiating Style

The six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program are set to resume Feb. 8 in Beijing. While
the outcome of such sessions is never clear in advance, there are indications that North Korea
and the United States have reached a tentative agreement to take concrete steps toward resolving
the nuclear issue. A shift in U.S. negotiating patterns to better fit with the North Korean
negotiating style has led to this possibility.


Representatives from the United States and North Korea, along with Russia, China, Japan and
South Korea, will meet Feb. 8 in Beijing for the next round of talks over North Korea’s nuclear
program. This is the second session of the so-called six-party talks since North Korea’s October
2006 nuclear test. As the participants gear up for these meetings, a sense of cautious optimism
prevails — leading to a more upbeat mood than seen at most of the previous sessions.

Though the nuclear negotiations’ outcome is never clear in advance, the key items on the table at
this round already have been circulating through the diplomatic community, unofficial channels
and in the press. The basic agreement to be discussed in Beijing is the suspension of activity at
North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear reactor in return for heavy fuel oil aid from the United States
and other members of the six-party process. Though many more details will emerge, these two
concrete steps will form the core of the negotiating session.

In looking at these negotiations, a few things should be kept in mind. First, North Korea, not the
United States, initiates nuclear crises. Pyongyang uses these crises to ensure regime survival and
to gain leverage with the United States, China and its other neighbors. This tactic has been used
repeatedly since the early 1990s, when North Korea’s erstwhile sponsors, Russia and China,
turned their attention to economic relations with the West (and South Korea), rather than
maintaining their socialist little brother. For Pyongyang, then, there might not be any real
motivation to bring a conclusive end to the series of crises — unless North Korea’s sense of
national security substantially changes.

The short-term goal of the negotiations is to keep North Korea’s neighbors and the United States
off balance and divided while putting North Korea at the center of attention. This lets Pyongyang
manipulate the differences in the national interests and political persuasions of the various
players, and thus reduce the risk of military action while increasing the chances of economic and
energy assistance. Though it seems counterintuitive, the plan has proved quite functional for
more than a decade. Despite expectations, the North Korean regime has not collapsed — in fact,
it remains firmly entrenched. And it intends to stay that way.

North Korea has delayed the resumption of six-party talks since the 2005 decision by the U.S.
Treasury Department to impose Section 311 of the Patriot Act on Banco Delta Asia (BDA), a
Macau-based bank accused of complicity with North Korean laundering of counterfeit money.
Though the actual amount locked down by the action was small (around $24 million), the real
impact came when the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network blocked
U.S. banks from doing business with BDA. This triggered a domino effect of foreign banks
throughout Asia, cutting off their North Korean accounts for fear of similar U.S. action. Both
legitimate and illegitimate North Korean bank accounts were suddenly closed, and service to
North Korean businesses and those doing business with North Korea was curtailed.

Pyongyang finally agreed to resume six-party nuclear talks in December 2006 after initial
negotiations with the U.S. Treasury Department. Even then, the December talks dealt only with
the BDA issue. Since December, there have been further meetings between North Korea and
U.S. Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary Daniel Glaser, with rumors suggesting that half of the
impounded $24 million could be released and other banking avenues might be opened for North
Korea. With this out of the way, Pyongyang now is preparing to make a show of progress on the
nuclear front, offering to shut down Yongbyon (but not dismantle it), reactivate the cameras put
in place by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and invite IAEA inspectors back. In
return, Pyongyang expects the banking sanctions issue to be resolved and for the United States to
resume shipments of heavy fuel oil to North Korea.

The apparent change in the North Korean position does not mean Pyongyang is backing down or
preparing to abandon its nuclear program — far from it. The nuclear program has always served
as a path toward negotiations — a bargaining chip North Korea has little intention of ever truly
abandoning, particularly after the October nuclear test. Instead, restarting the negotiation process
now offers North Korea additional leverage, and could influence policy decisions in other
concerned states.

Negotiations add strength to U.S. and South Korean arguments that communication and
cooperation are better than demands and force in dealing with North Korea. This keeps North
Korea in the game and allows it to keep stringing Washington, Seoul and Tokyo along with the
hope that maybe the next round of talks will produce positive results. This also affects the South
Korean political field, where posturing for the country’s December presidential elections is in
full swing. Pyongyang wants to increase the attractiveness of the south’s more progressive
political parties, while painting the opposition Grand National Party as likely to significantly
undermine the path to stability in East Asia.

A final settlement is not in the works. Instead, Pyongyang is planning a new round of progress.
Washington seems aware of this, and the chief U.S. negotiator has suggested that concrete
progress must be achieved in each round of talks for the meetings to continue, and that an overall
settlement must be in place by early 2008 — less than a year ahead of the next U.S. presidential
elections. Nonetheless, even the U.S. side has suggested that this round holds a higher chance for

One factor that has contributed to the slightly elevated (though still reserved) expectations for
this round of talks is the expansion of pre-talks between the United States and North Korea, as
well as several other bilateral discussions among the various parties. All negotiations with North
Korea face an inherent problem before the parties even sit down at the table: North Korean
negotiators are not negotiators at all, but simply come with a prearranged set of demands and a
very narrow set of acceptable outcomes. Put simply, they have little room to maneuver, and do
not have the authority to make the necessary compromises needed in difficult negotiations.

The North Korean decision-making process is still extremely top-heavy. All critical decisions
must be made at the level of Kim Jong Il. While diplomats and representatives of the state are
sent abroad for discussions, their room to compromise is extremely constrained. They simply go
out to put forward the latest proposals from Pyongyang, hear counterproposals and send all of
this information back to the capital.

This has happened during previous multilateral forums, with North Korean negotiators cabling
back to Pyongyang each afternoon or evening and coming in the next day with a new set of
requirements, limits and expectations. But for this round of talks, U.S. and North Korean
negotiators have been holding several rounds of bilateral pre-meetings. There has been extensive
diplomatic contact between Washington and Pyongyang, Washington and Beijing, Pyongyang
and Beijing, Pyongyang and Moscow and — to a lesser extent — with these players and
representatives from South Korea and Japan. In addition, each side has released trial balloons
and leaked its limits and openings to various proposals through semiofficial and unofficial

Coming into this round, then, there has been plenty of time for each party to prepare for the
others’ offers and counteroffers, and for North Korea and the United States to refine their
respective positions — with authority from Pyongyang. Though this does not guarantee results, it
does substantially improve the prospects for progress. In the end, though, North Korean
decisions are made at the top. Like the 1994 talks between Jimmy Carter and former North
Korean President Kim Il Sung, the potential for major shifts in policy and direction resides only
with the supreme leadership.

Timeline: North Korea

A chronology of key events:

1945 - After World War II, Japanese occupation of Korea ends with Soviet troops occupying the
north, and US troops the south.

1946 - North Korea's Communist Party (Korean Workers' Party

- KWP) inaugurated. Soviet-backed leadership installed,
including Red Army-trained Kim Il-sung.

1948 - Democratic People's Republic of Korea proclaimed. Soviet troops withdraw.

1950 - South declares independence, sparking North Korean invasion.

1953 - Armistice ends Korean War, which has cost two million lives.

1960s - Rapid industrial growth.

1968 - US intelligence-gathering vessel seized by North Korean gunboats.

1969 - US reconnaissance plane shot down.

1972 - After secret North-South talks, both sides seek to develop dialogue aimed at unification.
1980 - Kim Il-sung's son, Kim Jong-il, moves up party and
political ladder.

1991 - North and South Korea join the United Nations.

1992 - North Korea agrees to allow inspections by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),
but over next two years refuses access to sites of suspected nuclear weapons production.

1994 - Death of Kim Il-sung. Kim Jong-il suceeds him as leader, but doesn't take presidential
title. North Korea agrees to freeze nuclear programme in return for $5bn worth of free fuel and
two nuclear reactors.

1995 - US formally agrees to help provide two modern nuclear reactors designed to produce less
weapons-grade plutonium.

Flood and famine

1996 - Severe famine follows widespread floods.

Pyongyang announces it will no longer abide by the armistice that ended the Korean War, and
sends troops into the demilitarised zone.

North Korean submarine runs aground in South.

1998 - The late Kim Il-song declared "eternal president", while Kim Jong-il's powers widened to
encompass head of state.

UN food aid brought in to help famine victims.

North launches rocket which flies over Japan and lands in the Pacific Ocean. Pyongyang insists it
fired a satellite, not a missile.

South Korea captures North Korean mini-submarine in its waters. Crew inside found dead.

Historic handshake

2000 - Summit in Pyongyang between Kim Jong-il and South

Korean President Kim Dae-jung. North stops propaganda
broadcasts against the South.

Senior journalists from South Korea visit the North to open up communication.

Reopening of border liaison offices at the truce village of Panmunjom, in the no-man's-land
between the heavily fortified borders of the two countries.

South Korea gives amnesty to more than 3,500 prisoners.

One hundred North Koreans meet their relatives in the South in a highly-charged, emotional

2001 May - A European Union delegation headed by Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson
visits to help shore up the fragile reconciliation process with South Korea. The group represents
the highest-level Western diplomatic mission ever to travel to North Korea.

2001 June - North Korea says it is grappling with the worst spring drought of its history.

2001 August - Kim Jong Il arrives for his first visit to Moscow after an epic nine-day, 10,000-
kilometre train journey from Pyongyang. Kim apparently dislikes flying.

2002 January - US President George W Bush says North Korea is part of an "axis of evil", along
with states such as Iraq and Iran. Pyongyang says Mr Bush has not stopped far short of declaring

2002 June - North and South Korean naval vessels wage a gun battle in the Yellow Sea, the
worst skirmish for three years. Some 30 North Korean and four South Korean sailors are killed.

2002 September - Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visits, the first Japanese leader to
do so. He meets Kim Jong-il who apologises for the abductions of Japanese citizens in the 1970s
and 1980s.

Nuclear brinkmanship

2002 October-December - Nuclear tensions mount. In October the US says North Korea has
admitted to having a secret weapons programme. The US decides to halt oil shipments to
Pyongyang. In December North Korea begins to reactivate its Yongbyon reactor. International
inspectors are thrown out.

2003 January - North Korea withdraws from the Nuclear Non-

Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a key international agreement aimed at
preventing the spread of atomic weapons.

2003 April - Delegations from North Korea, the US and China begin talks in Beijing on North
Korea's nuclear ambitions, the first such discussions since the start of the nuclear crisis.

2003 July - Pyongyang says it has enough plutonium to start making nuclear bombs.

Six-nation talks

2003 August - Six-nation talks in Beijing on North Korea's nuclear programme fail to bridge gap
between Washington and Pyongyang.

2003 October - Pyongyang says it has reprocessed 8,000 nuclear fuel rods, obtaining enough
material to make up to six nuclear bombs.
2004 April - More than 160 killed and hundreds more injured
when train carrying oil and chemicals hits power line in town
of Ryongchon.

2004 June - Third round of six-nation talks on nuclear programme ends inconclusively. North
Korea pulls out of scheduled September round.

2004 December - Row with Japan over fate of Japanese citizens kidnapped and trained as spies
by North Korea in 70s, 80s. Tokyo says eight victims, said by Pyongyang to be dead, are alive.

2005 February - Pyongyang says it has built nuclear weapons for self-defence.

2005 September - Fourth round of six-nation talks on nuclear programme concludes. North
Korea agrees to give up its weapons in return for aid and security guarantees. But it later
demands a civilian nuclear reactor.

2006 February - High-level talks with Japan, the first since 2003, fail to yield agreement on key
issues, including the fate of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea.

2006 July - North Korea test-fires a long-range missile, and

some medium-range ones, to an international outcry. Despite
reportedly having the capability to hit the US, the long-range
Taepodong-2 crashes shortly after take-off, US officials say.

2006 October - North Korea claims to test a nuclear weapon for the first time.

2007 February - Six-nation talks on nuclear programme resume in Beijing. In a last-minute deal,
North Korea agrees to close its main nuclear reactor in exchange for fuel aid.

2007 May - Passenger trains cross the North-South border for the first time in 56 years.

2007 June - International inspectors visit the Yongbyon nuclear complex for the first time since
being expelled from the country in 2002.

2007 July - International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors verify shutdown of the Yongbyon

2007 August - North Korea appeals for aid after devastating floods.

Nuclear declaration

2007 October - Pyongang commits to disable three nuclear facilities and declare all its nuclear
programmes by year-end.

The presidents of North and South Korea pledge at a Pyongyang summit to seek talks to formally
end the Korean war.
2007 November - North and South Korea's prime ministers meet for the first time in 15 years.

2008 January - US says North Korea has failed to meet end-of-2007 deadline on declaring
nuclear activities. China urges North Korea to honour its commitments.

2008 February - The New York Philharmonic performs a groundbreaking concert in Pyongyang
- a move seen as an act of cultural diplomacy.

2008 February - South Korea's new conservative President Lee Myung-bak says aid to North
conditional on nuclear disarmament and human rights progress.

2008 March-April - North-South relations deteriorate sharply. North Korea expels Southern
managers from joint industrial base, test-fires short-range missiles and accuses President Lee
Myung-bak of sending a warship into Northern waters.

2008 June - In what is seen as a key step in the denuclearisation process, North Korea makes its
long-awaited declaration of its nuclear assets.

2008 July - Soldier shoots South Korean woman in the Mount Kumgang special tourism area of
North Korea, prompting further tensions.

Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hold talks on
Pyongyang's nuclear disarmament, the first such meeting for four years.

Kim no-show

2008 September - Kim Jong-il fails to appear at an important military parade, triggering
speculation over his state of health.

North Korea accuses the US of not fulfilling its part of a

disarmament-for-aid deal and says it is preparing to restart
the Yongbyon reactor.

2008 October - The US removes North Korea from its list of countries which sponsor terrorism,
in return for Pyongyang agreeing to provide full access to its nuclear sites.

2008 November - North Korea says it will cut off all overland travel to and from the South from
December, and blames South Korea for pursuing a confrontational policy.

2008 December - Pyongyang says it will slow down work to dismantle its nuclear programme in
response to a US decision to suspend energy aid. The US move came following the breakdown
of international talks to end the country's nuclear activities.

Nuclear tensions rise

2009 January - North Korea says it is scrapping all military and political deals with the South,
accusing Seoul of "hostile intent".
2009 April - North Korea launches a rocket carrying what it says is a communications satellite;
its neighbours accuse it of testing long-range missile technology. After criticism of the launch
from the UN Security Council, North Korea walks out of the international six-party talks aimed
at winding up its nuclear programme.

Kim Jong-il attends parliamentary vote to re-elect him leader, in his first major state appearance
since a suspected stroke in 2008.

2009 May - North Korea says it successfully carries out an

underground nuclear test, its second ever, drawing protests
from the US, China and Russia.

It also announces that it no longer considers itself bound by the terms of the 1953 truce that
ended the war between the two Koreas.

Defence Secretary Robert Gates says US "will not accept" a nuclear-armed North Korea.

2009 June - North Korea proposes reopening talks with South on Kaesong factory park, which is
run by South Korean companies, employs North Korean workers and is based just north of the

The eldest son of Kim Jong-il seems to confirm media reports that his younger brother Kim
Jong-un has been designated the country's next leader. Kim Jong-nam was speaking to Japanese

North Korea sentences two US journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee to 12 years hard labour for
allegedly crossing the border illegally.

UN Security Council votes unanimously to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea.

Pyongyang responds by saying it will view any US-led attempt to blockade the country as an
"act of war" and that it plans to "weaponise" its plutonium stocks.

Tensions subside

2009 August - Former US President Bill Clinton visits to help secure the release of US
journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, convicted of illegal border crossings two months earlier.

Pyongyang makes series of conciliatory gestures towards Seoul. It sends a delegation to the
funeral of former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, frees four South Korean fishermen who
had been detained for a month, and agrees to resume programme of family reunions suspended
since early 2008.

2009 October - North Korea indicates that it may be willing to resume bilateral and multilateral
talks on its nuclear programmes at a meeting with visiting Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.
2009 November - North Korea launches a confiscatory
currency reform that caused disruption to private markets
and unprecedented public protests into the New Year.

2009 December - US envoy Stephen Bosworth visits Pyongyang, reaches "common

understanding" on need to resume six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear programme.

2010 January - North Korea calls for end to hostile relations with US and vows to strive for
nuclear-free Korean peninsula.

North Korea fires artillery into the sea near the disputed maritime border, as part of a "military
drill". South Korea returns fire, but no injuries are reported.

2010 February - North Korea declares four areas near its disputed sea border with South Korea to
be naval firing zones, according to the South Korean military, and deploys multiple rocket
launchers close to the frontier.

The government reportedly eases restrictions on private markets after the currency revaluation of
2009 wiped out many cash savings in the country.


2010 March - Sinking of South Korean warship Cheonan, allegedly by the North, raises tensions
on the peninsula to new heights.

2010 June - North Korean parliament meets for a special session to approve a leadership

2010 July - United States announces new sanctions on North Korea in response to sinking of
Cheonan warship. North describes planned US-South war games as a provocation and threatens a
''nuclear'' response.

2010 August - Kim Jong-il visits China, expresses hopes for early resumption of six-party
nuclear talks, in first sign of attempts to conciliate international critics.

2010 September - As US President Obama signs new sanctions into law, the North makes a
number of overtures to the South, including offer of more family reunions and acceptance of
flood-damage aid.

Kim Jong-il's youngest son Kim Jong-un is appointed to senior political and military posts,
fuelling speculation that he is being prepared to succeed his father.

North’s Offer

North Korea, which has boycotted the nuclear forum since December 2008, offered to return to
the table after the United Nations Security Council refrained from blaming it for the March
sinking of the Cheonan, which a South Korean-led international panel said was caused by a
torpedo attack by the North. North Korea should take steps to show its sincerity, such as
rejoining the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty or disabling its Yongbyon reactor, Yu said.

“Even China and Russia agreed that it’s not the right time to jump start the six-party talks,” Yu
said at the forum, which was attended by all the participants in the nuclear discussions. “We
should have proof that North Korea is sincere enough to negotiate on this nuclear issue.”

China said July 13 the disarmament forum is the only way to achieve long-term peace on the
Korean peninsula. While China expressed a desire to start the talks in a July 23 meeting with
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Hanoi, there was a sense of acknowledgment that the time
isn’t yet ripe, an official who traveled with Clinton told reporters that day, speaking on condition
of anonymity because the meeting was private.

North Korean Torpedo

The panel said in May that the Cheonan sank near the disputed sea border after being attacked by
a North Korean mini- submarine. North Korea denies responsibility and the Security Council
statement adopted on July 9 didn’t name a culprit.

“The six-party talks is a useful platform to negotiate the denuclearization of North Korea,” Yu
said. “At the same time, we shouldn’t let North Korea use it to earn time to divert attention from
the Cheonan incident.”

North Korea’s domestic agenda, including preparations for a leadership transfer to Kim’s
youngest son, may make it difficult to engage in dialogue, Yu said. A plan to elect new leaders
of the ruling Korea Workers’ Party in early September may provide some insight into the
succession, he said.

North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun argued at the Asean Regional Forum that the U.S.
and South Korea fabricated the ship sinking to undermine his nation’s economic reconstruction
efforts, Yu said. Pak spoke about the “tremendous results” of a campaign driven by Kim, who is
“traveling to every corner of the country, encouraging economic programs,” he said.

Economic Failure

“That is clearly, they themselves recognizing the failure of economic development, so they may
wish to find some excuse,” Yu said.

North Korea’s economy has been battered by the UN sanctions imposed after it detonated atomic
devices in 2006 and last year. Kim’s regime, which has been reliant on outside handouts to feed
its 24 million people since the mid-1990s, faces more sanctions by the U.S., targeted at
government officials and the foreign banks that help sustain illicit arms deals.

The U.S. and South Korea began naval drills off the Korean peninsula’s east coast yesterday
involving a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, prompting a North Korean threat to intensify its
nuclear program.
“They crossed the red line. Attacking a naval ship is beyond the limit,” Yu said. “We should let
them know that kind of provocation will bear consequences.”

South Korea plans to modernize its military hardware including improvements in submarine-
detection equipment, some of which dates from the 1980s, Yu said

China may join moves to sanction North Korea

China will accept the results of an international investigation blaming North Korea.

Chinese Premier Wen Jibao (r.) greets US Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner (l.) and US
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, center, prior to their meeting at Zhongnanahai Leadership
Compound in Beijing, China on Tuesday.

China may soon abandon its cautious neutrality and join the international condemnation of North
Korea's role in sinking a South Korean warship, senior American officials said Wednesday.

Speaking after strategic talks this week in Beijing, the U.S. officials predicted that China will
gradually endorse the view that North Korea should be held accountable for the March 26
torpedo attack.

On a visit to South Korea this weekend, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is likely to express regret
for the deaths of 46 South Korean sailors in the incident and signal that China will accept the
results of an international investigation blaming North Korea, the U.S. officials said. They spoke
on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the discussions with China.

IN PICTURES: Cult of personality - Inside North Korea

Wen is also expected to leave open the possibility of backing action against Pyongyang at the
U.N. Security Council, although it's not clear how far Beijing is prepared to go in rebuking its
historic ally.

In Seoul earlier Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the world must
respond to the "unacceptable provocation" represented by the sinking of a South Korean warship,
as Pyongyang engaged in blistering rhetoric against Seoul and Washington.

Clinton told reporters after talks with South Korean leaders that "the international community
has a responsibility and a duty to respond" to the sinking, which "requires a strong but measured
response." She spoke at a joint news conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-

Clinton did not say what that response should be, but two U.S. officials said the U.N. could take
a variety of actions, ranging from tightening sanctions to a statement rebuking Pyongyang.

As one of five permanent members of the Security Council with veto authority, China can block
any measure the U.N. tries to take.
Clinton spent hours discussing the sinking with top Chinese leaders during strategic and
economic talks in Beijing on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, before spending a few hours in
Seoul Wednesday.

"I believe that the Chinese understand the seriousness of this issue and are willing to listen to the
concerns expressed by both South Korea and the United States," she said in South Korea. "We
expect to be working with China as we move forward in fashioning a response."

Tensions on the divided Korean peninsula have risen sharply since international investigators
issued a report last week saying a North Korean submarine was likely responsible for the sinking
of the Cheonan, a corvette patroling the Yellow Sea.

South Korea began implementing a package of punitive measures against the North on Tuesday
— ranging from slashing trade, resuming propaganda warfare and barring the North's cargo

After meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Clinton endorsed the moves. "We're
very confident in the South Korean leadership, and their decision about how and when to move
forward is one that we respect and will support," she said.

She praised the investigation of the sinking as "very thorough, highly professional" and "very
convincing." She said both the United States and South Korea had offered China "additional
information and briefings about the underlying facts of that event."

"We hope that China will take us up on our offer to really understand the details of what
happened and the objectivity of the investigation that led to the conclusions," she said.

China is not the only potential roadblock the U.S. and its allies face when it comes to pushing a
tough response through the U.N. Security Council. Russia is another of the veto-holding
permanent council members and must also be persuaded to take action.

The Kremlin said in a statement Wednesday that President Dmitry Medvedev has sent a group of
experts to Seoul to study the international investigation's findings.

"Medvedev considers it a matter of principle to establish the reason for the sinking of the ship,"
the statement said.

South Korea's Yu, asked about the possibility of China or Russia blocking action by the U.N.
Security Council, said they "will take time, I'm sure, but they will not be able to deny the facts."

Associated Press reporters Sangwon Yoon and Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul and Christopher Bodeen
in Beijing contributed to this report.

Six-Party Talks

The Six-Party Talks concerning the DPRK’s nuclear program involve the United States, North
Korea, China, Japan, Russia and, South Korea. However, the primary players are the US and
North Korea. The US has requested the involvement of the other four nations to deny North
Korea of its desire to participate in bilateral negotiations with the US. The US is unwilling to
participate in bilateral negotiations, citing North Korea’s breach of the 1994 Framework

Besides the issue of North Korea’s nuclear program, Japan is interested in the six-party talks to
help rectify the abductees issue and Russia is concerned about its presence in Northeast Asia.
Both countries will have little influence on either the US or North Korea during the talks.

The notion that China is extremely vital to the six-party talks is exaggerated. Nevertheless, it is
the national interest of China that North Korea is relatively stable, so as to reduce the exodus of
North Korean refugees into Chinese territory and to act as an area separation between China and
the US’s military presence in South Korea. North Korea is too important to China’s national
security interests for it to become a failed state.

North Korea considers it nuclear program as a vital element of its national security and of the
continued existence of the Kim Family Regime. Therefore, it is doubtful that North Korea will
surrender its nuclear program. Moreover, due to the stagnation of the country’s economy, a
nuclear program acts as a less expensive deterrent than a Western-style army. Finally, a
functioning nuclear program is perceived as a sign of internal prestige by the regime. Because of
the value North Korea places on its domestic nuclear program, Pyongyang, if it is to halt the
program, has requested foreign aid and security commitments from the US.

Although North Korean nuclear concessions center on halting its plutonium-based nuclear
program, it has been put forward by Pakistani nuclear proliferator A.Q. Khan that North Korea is
also pursuing a uranium enrichment program. North Korea has refuted this claim, even though
the US has stated that the DPRK actually admitted to be operating a uranium enrichment
program in October 2002. As mentioned, foreign aid will not be enough of an incentive for North
Korea to dismantle its nuclear program. In the end, nuclear weapons are the gold standard for the
Kim Family Regime.

On 16 February 2005 Vice Admiral Lowell E. Jacoby, U.S. Navy, Director, Defense Intelligence
Agency, testified that "Kim Chong-il may eventually agree to negotiate away parts of his nuclear
weapon stockpile and program and agree to some type of inspection regime, but we judge Kim is
not likely to surrender all of his nuclear weapon capabilities. We do not know under what
conditions North Korea would sell nuclear weapons or technology."

The US has taken a relatively hard-line approach to the North Korean nuclear weapons program.
Therefore its is improbable that North Korea will be included under the US security umbrella or
receive large amounts of economic aid until its nuclear program is verified as dismantled beyond
repair. Yet, an action of this magnitude would probably stem from a DPRK regime change.
Nevertheless, there are members of the Bush Administration who willing to forgo a regime
change in favor of an open dialogue that could lead to a diplomatic resolution.

There was some indication that North Korea may have been willing to dismantle its weapons
program after six-party talks in Beijing in 2005. The basis of the agreement was that North
Korea would dismantle its weapons program and its production of weapons-grade nuclear
material, and recieve a less-threatening light water nuclear reactor (LWR) for its electricity
needs. This is essentially a reinstitution of the October 1994 Agreed Framework, which the Bush
Administration had ordered the Korea Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) to
terminate because of continued enrichment activity by the DPRK. The 2005 framework
eventually fell apart because of disagreements about what constituted a "dismantling" and what
constituted a "freeze" of nuclear enrichment. The Bush Administration did not see a "freeze" as
sufficient compensation for a LWR.

On October 9, 2006, North Korea announced a successful nuclear test, verified by the United
States on October 11. In response, the United Nations Security Council, citing Chapter VII of the
UN Charter, unanimously adopted Resolution 1718, condemning North Korea's action and
imposing sanctions on certain luxury goods and trade of military units, weapons of mass
destruction (WMD)-related parts, and technology transfers. The Six-Party Talks resumed in
December 2006 after a 13-month hiatus.

Following a bilateral meeting between the United States and D.P.R.K. in Berlin in January 2007,
another round of Six-Party Talks was held in February 2007. On February 13, 2007, the parties
reached an agreement on "Initial Actions for the Implementation of the Joint Statement" in which
North Korea agreed to shut down and seal its Yongbyon nuclear facility, including the
reprocessing facility, and to invite back International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) personnel
to conduct all necessary monitoring and verification of these actions. The other five parties
agreed to provide emergency energy assistance to North Korea in the amount of 50,000 tons of
heavy fuel oil (HFO) in the initial phase (within 60 days) and the equivalent of up to 950,000
tons of HFO in the next phase of North Korea's denuclearization. The six parties also established
five working groups to form specific plans for implementing the Joint Statement in the following
areas: denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, normalization of D.P.R.K.-U.S. relations,
normalization of D.P.R.K.-Japan relations, economic and energy cooperation, and a Northeast
Asia peace and security mechanism. All parties agreed that the working groups would meet
within 30 days of the agreement, which they did. The agreement also envisions the directly-
related parties negotiating a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula at an appropriate
separate forum.

As part of the initial actions, North Korea invited IAEA Director General ElBaradei to
Pyongyang in early March for preliminary discussions on the return of the IAEA to the D.P.R.K.
The sixth round of Six-Party Talks took place on March 19-23, 2007. The parties reported on the
first meetings of the five working groups. At the invitation of the D.P.R.K., Assistant Secretary
of State Christopher Hill visited Pyongyang in June 2007 as part of ongoing consultations with
the six parties on implementation of the Initial Actions agreement. In July 2007, the D.P.R.K.
shut down the Yongbyon nuclear facility, as well as an uncompleted reactor at Taechon, and
IAEA personnel returned to the D.P.R.K. to monitor and verify the shut-down and to seal the
facility. Concurrently, the R.O.K., China, United States, and Russia initiated deliveries of
approximately 50,000 metric tons of HFO per month, with the R.O.K. completing delivery of the
first tranche of 50,000 metric tons in August, China the second in September, the United States
the third in November, and Russia the fourth in January. These four parties are expected to
continue to provide monthly shipments of HFO as the D.P.R.K. continues to implement
denuclearization steps.
All five working groups met in August and September to discuss detailed plans for
implementation of the next phase of the Initial Actions agreement, and the D.P.R.K. invited a
team of experts from the United States, China, and Russia to visit the Yongbyon nuclear facility
in September 2007 to discuss specific steps that could be taken to disable the facility. The
subsequent September 27-30 Six-Party plenary meeting resulted in the October 3, 2007
agreement on "Second-Phase Actions for the Implementation of the Joint Statement."

Under the terms of the October 3 agreement, the D.P.R.K. agreed to disable all existing nuclear
facilities subject to abandonment under the September 2005 Joint Statement and the February 13
agreement. The parties agreed to complete by December 31, 2007 a set of disablement actions
for the three core facilities at Yongbyon--the 5-MW(e) Experimental Reactor, the Radiochemical
Laboratory (Reprocessing Plant), and the Fresh Fuel Fabrication Plant--with oversight from a
team of U.S. experts, The D.P.R.K. also agreed to provide a complete and correct declaration of
all its nuclear programs in accordance with the February 13 agreement by December 31, 2007
and reaffirmed its commitment not to transfer nuclear materials, technology, or know-how.

In November 2007, the D.P.R.K. began to disable the three core facilities at Yongbyon and
complete most of the agreed disablement actions by the end of the year. Due to health and safety
concerns, disablement activities at the 5-MW(e) reactor continued beyond December 31, 2007.
Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill visited Pyongyang again in December 2007 as part
of ongoing consultations on the implementation of Second-Phase actions and carried with him a
letter from the President of the United States to Kim Jong-il. The D.P.R.K. missed the December
31 deadline to provide a complete and correct declaration, but efforts to secure a declaration
continued into January 2008.

While the D.P.R.K. missed the December 31 deadline to provide a complete and correct
declaration, it provided its declaration to the Chinese, chair of the Six-Party Talks, on June 26,
2008. The D.P.R.K. also imploded the cooling tower at the Yongbyon facility in late June 2008
before international media. Following the D.P.R.K's progress on disablement and provision of a
declaration, President Bush announced the lifting of the application of the Trading with the
Enemy Act (TWEA) with respect to the D.P.R.K. and notified Congress of his intent to rescind
North Korea's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. President Bush made clear that the
United States needs to have a strong regime in place to verify the D.P.R.K.'s declaration before it
removes the D.P.R.K. from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. As of August 2008, the United
States continued to work with its Six-Party partners to establish such a verification regime, and
remained prepared to move forward with taking the D.P.R.K. off of the state sponsors of
terrorism list once a verification regime was in place.

How to Negotiate with North Korea: Analysis of the Negotiation Process for the February
13th Agreement

For more than 50 years, negotiating with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
(hereafter referred to as the DPRK or North Korea) has been a difficult and painful task for
negotiators, particularly in the United States (hereafter referred to as the US) and the Republic of
Korea (hereafter referred to as the ROK or South Korea). Characterized by using “brinkmanship
strategy,” North Korea usually holds fast to its views and demands unilateral concessions, and
sometimes stomps out of the negotiating room, even though it is the party that most needs the
negotiation, in order to get more concessions from the other. Even though North Korea joined in
an agreement after long and painful negotiations, fulfillment of that agreement has been another
problem. Despite its image of being irrational and unpredictable, however, many experts do not
agree that North Korea is an irrational decision maker;
negotiators experienced in negotiating
with North Korea have concluded that North Korea is sufficiently clever to get as many
concessions as possible, while offering little in return.
After the Bush administration’s refusal in 2002 to adhere to the Framework
Agreed upon in 1994, the relationship between the US and the DPRK had been much more
deteriorated. In this context, the February 13
Agreement in 2007 came into the spotlight,
bringing new hope regarding de-nuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. Thus, studying how the US
and the ROK called for the DPRK’s return to the Six-Party Talk (which had been severely in
deadlock since September 2005), and what kinds of negotiating strategies were used, has a
significant meaning for future negotiations
To avoid all the transactional costs of holding positions and
continuing conflicts, principled negotiation proposes four methods of negotiation. These are: 1)
separate the people from the problem, 2) focus on interests, not positions, 3) generate a variety of
possibilities before deciding what to do, and 4) insist that the result be based on some objective
First, in the principled negotiation, negotiators should treat their opponents as human
beings and separate their relationship from the problem; they should not respond to each other
emotionally. Second, negotiators should focus on each side’s interests, instead of just own one’s
position. If negotiators examine the underlying interests, it is not difficult to find there are more
mutual interests than are seen at first glance. Third, negotiators should create options for mutual
gain; they should look for a dovetail. Last, negotiators should negotiate on the basis of objective
criteria that are both legitimate and practical. A principled negotiator will yield only to principle,
not to pressure
It is possible to meet opponents who persist in their own position, and threaten to end the
negotiation if their unilateral demands are not met, even when they negotiate in the manner of
principled negotiation. Knowing the best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) will
protect negotiators from committing to an agreement that may force them to make more
concessions than they wish.
Although understanding the other’s cultural context can help negotiators to overcome the
differences among them, however, excessive effort of the erabi negotiators (such as the United
State) to respect the negotiators of the high-context society (such as North Korea) would be
criticized because it led them to make too many concessions
As many negotiators who had experienced negotiating with North Korea testified,
negotiations with North Korea are infamous for their difficulties and offensiveness.
The first
North Korean behavior which throws the opponents into confusion is the use of severe, insulting
remarks and placing blame, without any personal meetings prior to the negotiation. North Korea
has used skillful tactics, including severe insults, dilatory measures, threats of war, and stomping
out of the negotiation room while announcing a breakdown of the negotiations, to get many more
In contrast to most non-communist states, which regard negotiation as an alternative to
war, the communist approach to the negotiation is known as “war by other means;” for North
Korea, negotiation is an important means to attain benefits of agreements to continue its
Thus, for North Korea, the purpose of negotiation is not to reach an agreement but
attain as many concessions as possible as compensation for participating in the talks or for
simply agreeing to participate in them
highly aggressive and defensive attitude, done in order to emphasize their country’s
sovereignty or independence.
regime requires negotiations to attain economic aid from others to the greatest extent possible,
and to acquire legitimacy for the regime
For example, the meaning of “concession” in negotiation is different
between the partners (South Korea and the U.S.) and the North Koreans. For South Korean,
concession has two meanings: in general, a situation where the stronger party gives up a part of
their interests for the benefit of the weaker; in cynical terms, it also means yielding to the other’s
power. Many South Koreans have a tendency to take it for granted that they give their brothers
n the north more because they are confident of their place in the competition with North Korea;
others criticize it as yielding to the North. However, North Koreans took the latter meaning; they
regard concessions as surrender in their class struggle, while Americans regard concessions as a
being part of the bargaining process.
These differences have misled the negotiating partners of
North Korea to expect North Korea’s good will. In other words, when Americans make a
concession, expecting the other’s concession in exchange, North Korea goes forward with its
next strategy, which is to gain more concessions. Thus, those who will negotiate with North
Korea should, first of all, understand these fundamental differences
To attain as much concession as possible, North Korea concentrates on acquiring
leadership in negotiations as soon as the process begins
Thus, in negotiations with North Korea, the interpretation and fulfillment of the
terms after negotiations are more important than the agreement itself. According to Carl Ford,
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research, North Korea seemed to have
no intention of giving up its nuclear program when it signed the Agreed Framework. It did not
give up the nuclear program, only reduced the scale. Ford pointed out that North Korea signed
the Agreed Framework to buy some time, hoping that it could recover “the competitive edge
For this reason, Commodore Joy warned the negotiators that, when negotiating with
North Korea, they should first negotiate the mechanism for mutual observance of the agreement
before they tried to negotiate an agreement itself.
North Korea’s agreement and signature
cannot guarantee the fulfillment of the agreement. That is why negotiators should not feel
comfortable when they reach an agreement with North Korea after long and painful negotiations
Before the Six-party talks in February 2007, the United States and the DPRK had
two bilateral talks, one in Berlin and the other in Beijing. In those, the United States proposed
many concessions, including improvement of the relationship between two countries, economic
aid, and lifting a number of sanctions currently in place against North Korea, such as release of
BDA funds in the amount of approximately $25 million.
Such conciliatory actions informed
North Korea that the United State would rely on the negotiations regarding the North Korean
nuclear issue, rather than launch a preemptive war
The conciliatory actions were attractive enough to draw North Korea to the
negotiations, because most of the concessions were ones the DPRK had long demanded,
were not dangerous or threatening to the national interests of the United States
Second, in this agreement, both the United States and the DPRK focused on their interests,
instead of their positions. North Korea had held the position that it would never abandon its
program, while the United States had repeated that it would not compensate bad behavior.
in this agreement, each side paid attention to its interests: the guarantee of survival of the regime
North Korea, and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula for the US. The fact that the political
compensations, such as the normalization of the relationship (Clauses 3 and 4) are stressed more
than economic compensation, such as heavy fuel oil (HFO), demonstrates that North Korea
an improvement in the relationship that would protect it from any hostile policy, more than it
one-time economic aid.
United States also focused on its interest: denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. To achieve
primary purpose, the United States decided to tolerate other violations by North Korea, including
black money into the BDA; in the bilateral talks, the United States promised to release the frozen
money. When the parties were free from their positions and pursued their interests, they could
the agreement
Last, the DPRK agreed to invite
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials to
conduct all monitoring and verifications after they shut down the nuclear facilities.
international criteria on nuclear programs were chosen as the standards of judgment regarding
North Korea shutting down and sealing its nuclear facilities. Thus, the method of the negotiation
coincided with the strategies of the principled negotiation
irst, the agreement was for initial action to implement the Joint Statement in
2005, which meant that North Korea would get more compensation through a continuous
negotiation process if it proceeded, step-by-step toward the eventual abandonment of its nuclear
However, North Korea did not seem to take its promised action as timely as other parties
longed for. The DPRK stomped out of the room twice during the 13
Economic Cooperation
Talks between the two Koreas in late April, when the ROK tried to connect 400,000 tons of rice
support to the DPRK’s implementation of the February 13
Agreement. North Korea even fired
one missile into the East Sea in May 25
, two missiles into its western coast in June 7
North Korea sent IAEA a letter saying that it would implement the February 13
Agreement, but did not make clear when this would be done. In fact, the agreement was itself
vulnerable in the portion regarding implementation.
double-interpretation problem. For example, regarding the term “shut down,” the
DPRK announced to its people that it had agreed to suspend its nuclear facilities “temporarily
If the DPRK interpreted “shut down” as meaning a temporarily suspension, it would
create a serious obstacle in the implementation of the Agreement, although some believe that the
remark of “temporary suspension” was done only for domestic propaganda. Without any
alternative in detail, the five countries are waiting only for the DPRK’s action.
The DPRK’s no-action or lazy action could make the February 13
Agreement fall into “talking in the talk, not working in the work” category in several times. The
DPRK’s lazy action can be interpreted in two ways: the DPRK’s distrust of the five states,
particularly the United
States, and the continued strategy to get as many concessions as possible. The nuclear card is the
only card the DPRK has, while there are many kinds of concession available to its opponents.
The DPRK seems not to be sure that its regime can survive, even after it abandons its nuclear
program completely. It will not throw out that powerful card early until it is sure it will receive a
great deal of compensation for it
When North Korea could not abide by the time limit for disabling which was the end of
2007, the US announced that it was because of technical and secure problem instead of
criticizing North Korea.
don’t forget that the DPRK is
awase style negotiator who emphasizes “relationship” more than “a result
While pressing the DPRK for action, the US should be careful not to blame the
North Korean regime.
Continuing to guarantee the DPRK’s security after the DPRK’s
abandoning its nuclear programs, the US should also focus on its own interests and propose
future carrots, such as economic aid and improvement of the relationship
it should also propose the
complete guarantee that North Korea can use the international financial system. The US with
other four parties should emphasize what kind of future compensation North Korea can receive
when North Korea takes action under the Agreement. The five parties also should emphasize
their will to keep their word.