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North Korea and Bush Administration in Mexican Stand-off
By Amitrajit Chatterjee

In January 2002, George Bush labeled North Korea as part of the "axis of evil" countries, along with Iran and Iraq. This was after the reports came in that North Korea was going forward with its nuclear weapons development program, in spite of international protests. It went on to withdraw from the Non Proliferation Treaty and publicly acknowledged in July of 2004 'that most of their nuclear programs are weapons related'.1

The Bush administration has always followed a hands-on-gloves approach towards North Korea. While preference was given to diplomatic avenues in dealing with the rogue Korean nation, the Bush administration refused to follow that path in the case of Iraq. From time to time the unpredictable, ruthless, secretive despot of North Korea Kim Jong II has said that his country's nuclear weapons program is aimed at acting as a deterrent against U.S.'s aggressive foreign policy, which primarily focuses on regime changes. In 2003, while preparations to attack Iraq were on in full swing, the North Korean deputy foreign minister director Ri Pyong-gap was quoted as saying "pre-emptive attacks are not the exclusive right of the US".2 Paying scant regard to this serious threat, the Bush administration pursued its unilateral policy of bombing Iraq, irrespective of the fact that the country had not threatened to attack USA. Iraq was teeming with UN inspectors who failed to find any weapons of mass destruction and was asked to leave by the U.S., while North Korea forced the UN inspectors to leave and then re-activated their nuclear plants. 'But Bush and his senior foreign policy aides say they are looking for a diplomatic solution, working through U.S. allies in the region, as well as China and Russia'.2

Bush has consistently refused to have direct talks with North Korea even though the latter has repeatedly asked for it, which has unnecessarily delayed the process of achieving a meaningful solution. In December of 2004, the U.S. rejected North Korea's offer to freeze their nuclear program and insisted on scrapping the program altogether.3 Alternatively dangling carrots and sticks the administration tried to get the Korean nation to toe its line, but failed miserably. Yet the Bush administration continues to ignore the threat and veers away from considering a military approach towards North Korea, but did not skip a beat with Iraq.

This difference in approach can be explained in two ways. One reason Bush is wary is primarily because he may be afraid that Kim Jong II might unleash the nuclear weapons. He knew Iraq did not possess any WMDs and would not be able to fight back, hence he attacked with full military might. The second, more plausible reason, is oil. North Korea does not produce oil. It is no secret that the first and foremost interests of the Bush administration are oil and the interests of oil companies. So without the possibility of getting rewards in the form of oil, this administration does not seem eager to institute a swift ending to this conflict.

1 Yahoo News, article removed.
2 One News - North Korea Threat Dismissed, Feb 07, 2003

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