Bush Administration Provides Aid to North Korea
Out comes the carrot:
Several million North Koreans struggling to stave off famine will receive food from the US this year, the Bush administration announced on Wednesday, declaring that its continued aid was humanitarian and not tied to progress in ending the communist state’s nuclear weapons programme.
The US pledged 50,000 tonnes for this year, the same as in 2004, to be distributed by the World Food Programme. Nonetheless, the UN agency remains far short of its goal of supplying a total of 500,000 tonnes.
With North Korea facing its worst crisis since famine in the 1990s killed 2m-3m people, the UN food agency had urged the US to double its contribution.
“It is a humanitarian act based on need and not based on political considerations and not linked to six-party talks,” said Adam Ereli, State Department spokesman. However, analysts said Washington was calculating that its initiative could lead to a breakthrough in the diplomatic stalemate by giving Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader, the opportunity to decide to return to the negotiating table after a year-long absence.
If North Korea maintained its refusal, the analysts said, the US would be in a stronger moral position to abandon the six-party process and take a tougher line with sanctions.
Very savvy move. The administration gives enough aid to demonstrate good will while avoiding the appearance of significant concession. It also takes the moral high ground via an international institution, thereby burnishing its multilateral credentials and luring North Korea away from direct negotiations.