mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
North Korea Trades Inspections For Food. Again.

In a surprise breakthrough on the Korean Peninsula, Yahoo News reports the United States and North Korea have agreed to a deal that would see the North stop nuclear tests, halt uranium enrichment and allow inspections of its nuclear facilities by international monitors. The price? An initial 240,000 metric tons of food aid, with the potential for more aid to be delivered down the road.

In this nuclearized neck of the woods, Via Meadia echoes Winston Churchill’s dictum that to “jaw jaw is always better than to war war”. Unfortunately, however, this agreement, like every other deal reached with Pyongyang since 1994, does little to alter the fundamental security dynamic posed by a nuclearized North Korea.

North Korea’s stock of nuclear weapons represents its one and only cash crop. From time time it offers to sell a halt to its nuclear program in return for the money and basic items (like food) the regime needs to survive. The only trouble is that next year, North Korea will again likely be out of money, and we will be singing the same tune.

Under the aegis of the late Kim Jong-il, North Korea had a spotty track record when it came to holding up its end of international bargains. It remains to be seen whether his son—the newly installed leader Kim Jong-un—will follow in his erratic father’s footsteps. Kim Jong-un is young, inexperienced and probably still has work to do in shoring up his power base.

While Via Meadia hopes this agreement presages a new dawn in the region, we will certainly not be holding our breath.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Brett

    “Spotty” is an understatement. This is the third or fourth time that they’ve made an offer like this, and no doubt they’ll stall and renege on the deal as soon as an “acceptable” amount of food aid is in their hands.

    What’s sickening about it is that this is no guarantee that many North Koreans won’t continue to starve. The last time we gave the North Korean government a bunch of food aid (as well as the 1990s aid), they stored a ton of it in those countless tunnels they’ve dug in order to ensure a reliable food supply for the party elite and military.

  • LarryD

    A realist would at least deal on a cash-only basis, i.e. food gets delivered as agreed-upon milestones are meet.

    But narcissists are gullible, so I expect the Obama administration to deliver the whole amount of food upfront, and then pout when NK fails to live up to its end of the agreement.

  • Kris

    Alternate proposal: set up a lavish brothel with all the amenities including an unlimited supply of drugs, and offer people such as Kim Jong-un a lifetime stay there. Should he and his ilk have a sadistic streak they insist on indulging (No! Surely not!), then the brothel can also include a dungeon whose unwilling but available inhabitants will be bad guys (What simplistic terminology!) who have not accepted this kind offer.

    I am waiting for my Nobel Peace Prize.

  • La Marque

    It’s a bad deal for the USA. It should be rejected out of hand. Let them ask China for aid.

    If we do a dumb deal with NK, then it should be on terms as LarryD stated.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service