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US Media and the Breakdown in the Six-Party Talks
America reneges on action for action obligation to North Korea
Ronda Hauben (netizen2)     Print Article 
Published 2008-09-29 06:35 (KST)   
While much of the mainstream US media has blamed North Korea for any problems that develop in the six-party talks, a significant article has appeared in the Washington Post documenting part of the problem that has led to the recent breakdown in negotiations and which threatens to end the six-party talk process if it isn't reversed.(1)

The article, which should be a front page story, instead appears on page 20 and has drawn little attention. The article by Glenn Kessler documents the hostile US State Department environment that has eroded the process of negotiation with North Korea. It describes how US hardliners fashioned a verification procedure to be imposed on North Korea which was, in the words of an expert in nuclear disarmament, akin to "a license to spy on any military site they (North Korea) have."

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Overruling Christopher Hill, the Assistant Secretary of State who has been the lead negotiator for the US in the six-party talks, and in spite of warnings from China and Russia, that this was not advisable, US negotiators presented North Korea with a disrespectful verification plan that if accepted would jeopardize North Korean sovereignty.

A copy of the four page verification presentation is online (PDF).

In addition, the US President, George Bush, failed to fulfill on his obligation to remove North Korea from the nations that sponsor terrorism list. Bush had given notice to Congress on June 26 that he was requesting that North Korea be delisted, giving Congress the required 45 day notice to enable him to carry out the delisting. Subsequently, however, when the 45 days passed for Congress to respond, and there was no objection, Bush failed to delist North Korea, claiming the need for North Korea to agree to a verification plan.

The Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of North Korea, Pak Kil Yon, in a speech (PDF) to the UN General Assembly on Saturday, Sept. 27, explained, the US is now using the "pretext of verification as an excuse to hold off on removing the country from its list of State sponsors of terrorism even after officially declaring that the DPRK (North Korea-ed) is not such a nation."

Discussing the responsibility the Bush administration bears for the break down in the six party talks, Leon Sigal of the Social Science Research Council described the obligation of the Bush administration to provide action for action in response to North Korea (D.P.R.K.) meeting its obligations in a talk he presented at the Korea Society on Monday, Sept. 22.

Sigal detailed how the second phase of the six-party agreement required of North Korea the "disabling the reactor, reprocessing facility and fuel fabrication plant at Yongbyon and declaring the nuclear material and equipment that were to be eliminated in phase three." Also North Korea pledged "not to transfer nuclear materials, technology or know-how" to third parties. The United States, as its action for action obligation, promised to "begin the process of removing the designation of the D.P.R.K. as a state sponsor of terrorism and advance the process of terminating the application of the Trading with the Enemy Act with respect to the D.P.R.K."

Verification, according to Sigal, was "left to phase three of negotiations when the dismantling of the North's nuclear facilities and elimination of any plutonium or weapons it has would be taken up."

Sigal pointed out that the first sign that the administration had "yielded to hardliners" was on July 30 when a National Security Council official, Dennis Wilder, told reporters that the delisting of North Korea from the state sponsors of terrorism would require North Korea agreeing to a verification protocol. Then in a speech on Aug. 7, Sigal explained, Bush informed North Korea, that North Korea would have to agree to a verification agreement in order to be delisted.

The US government changed the terms of agreement unilaterally, imposing a condition on North Korea that was not part of the original agreement.

The failure of most of the mainstream US media to inform the public of this arbitrary change by the US government, demonstrates once again the role this media plays in helping the US government deceive the public. A similar role the media performed in spreading the Bush administration's false narrative that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction has since drawn much criticism.

Despite the widespread critique of the past failure of the US media, there is a reluctance on the part of the media to expose what the dispute is about with respect to the recent breakdown of the six party talks. For example, UPI offered the view of an alleged expert in North Korea from a London think tank advising that North Korea is trying to divide the countries involved in the six party talks. (3)

Other press reports describe how Chris Hill, the US official for the six party talks is to go to North Korea to try to salvage the talks from the current break down, but little or no explanation is offered of the problem that has led to the breakdown. And even when there is a news report like the Washington Post exposure of the harshness of the verification process presented to North Korea, it is buried in the pages of the newspaper, instead of getting the front page coverage such a story deserves.


1. Far reaching US Plan Impaired N. Korea Deal
Demands Began to Undo Nuclear Accord
By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 26, 2008; Page A20

2. A similar situation with the mainstream US media is documented in the lead up to the Iraq war. Articles promoting the US government's false claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction appeared on page one of newspapers like the Washington Post and the NYT but articles challenging this view would not appear, would be relegated to some later section of the newspaper. One such example is the White House "disinformation campaign" incident when Tony Blair and George Bush held a press conference at Camp David on Sept. 7 2002. They cited a "new report" from the IAEA alleging that Iraq was six months away from building a nuclear weapon. The fact that no such report existed was not reported by the press, except for an article in the Washington Times by Joseph Curl which was carried on page 16, and an article in the Washington Post by Karen DeYoung about the press conference quoted an IAEA spokesperson saying that there was no such report, but that was not featured in her article, but was relegated to the later part of her report 21 paragraphs down.
See "Lies We Bought" The Columbia Journalism Review,
May/Jun 2003 by MacArthur, John R

3. EU: Iran close to nuclear capability

A version of this article appears on netizenblog.
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ronda Hauben

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