21 January 2019

This week’s summit with between U.S.-North Korea reminds me of how

By: Stanley Harsha



In 1995, tough-minded U.S. negotiators succeeded in stopping North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, delaying production of hundreds of nuclear bombs had the Agreed Framework not been implemented under the multi-lateral organization KEDO (ref:  Arms Control Association) In May-June 1995 I sat in the room for nearly a month of non-stop U.S. talks with North Korea, held in Kuala Lumpur.  U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Tom Hubbard led a team of brilliant, tough negotiators.  The North Koreans were rhino-skinned negotiators, each day moving one inch forward and a foot backwards, but Hubbard and team were patient and unyielding.  And they understood the psyche of their interlocutors. In addition, each day we had to get consensus from Washington, Seoul and Tokyo, while the North Koreans could concede nothing without Pyongyang agreement. After weeks, the breakthrough seemingly came suddenly, and in exchange for the KEDO nations coalition supplying light water reactors and fuel, North Korea halted its nuclear arms development.  

In 2002, President GW Bush, at the urging of Under Secretary of State John Bolton, declared North Korea as a member of the Axis of Evil and derailed the agreement, rather than negotiating better compliance, also threatening pre-emptive strikes (another Bolton idea).  North Korea withdrew in 2003, bringing us to where we are today.

I wish President Trump all the luck of an Irishman in his meeting this week.  Let’s pray for good results, because the alternative is potential global nuclear destruction of all species.  However, the North Koreans are very smart, very tough.  Let’s hope that Trump and Secretary Pompeo are up to the task.  This is not the type of U.S. diplomacy that I witnessed succeeding over and over during my career, but it is diplomacy nevertheless, and I fully support Trump this week. If he succeeds, he has my grudging respect.



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