North Korea is a weak and isolated country, but it recently rebuffed demands by the United States, Russia, Japan, China, and South Korea to return to the Six Party Talks on eliminating its nuclear weapons program. North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Il, says Pyongyang might participate in these negotiations “when conditions are suitable.”
What’s going on? It is one thing for North Korea to supply nuclear weapons to rogue states or terrorist groups; it’s another for it to say “no” to the most powerful nations on earth. The time has come for these five countries to act together to contain the immediate North Korean threat and address other threats that are emerging in Northeast Asia.
Prospects for the Korean peninsula: Views from Japan and the United States
China has a couple of options here. It could choose to be unhappy about this, but not make it a big issue. The other way they could see it is the first step in a kind of probe towards moving towards an official relationship. [Beijing] might calculate that it is better to react vigorously and strongly with the first step rather than wait for the situation to get worse.