Korea Nuke Talks: China Is Host, Winner

From the March-April 2004 Trumpet Print Edition

A second round of talks over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program began in Beijing on February 25. The goal for the talks, which involved the U.S., China, Japan, Russia and the Koreas, was to create a nuclear-free Korean peninsula. The U.S. and North Korea have been at a deadlock since last August when the first round of talks failed.

China has played an instrumental role in securing the six-way talks, and the U.S. is thanking China for it. When asked about the upcoming talks, John Bolton, U.S. undersecretary for arms control and international security, “appeared to defer to China, praising it for bringing North Korea back to the negotiating table and saying the U.S. merely nudged Pyongyang forward by not setting preconditions” (Straits Times, February 17).

Beijing holds tremendous power in the region. Though February’s talks ended in failure (another round is scheduled for June), China actually has the leverage to make Pyongyang straighten up—as it is North Korea’s primary source for food and energy.

China is in the driver’s seat of this showdown, and is willing to bide its time for a long-term solution, slowly edging the U.S. out of the region.