Well, according to the New York Times editorialists, the "good news" is that President Bush and Condi Rice are apparently "so eager for an enduring foreign policy victory, in hopes of offsetting their failures in Iraq" that they have agreed to be a party along with China, Russia and Japan to essentially a partial re-institution of the U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework of 1994 [.pdf].
Under the new "Six-Party" agreement, the U.S. will again be required to provide formal assurances to the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea against the threat or use of nuclear weapons and the DPRK will again be required to enter into a bilateral agreement with the Republic of Korea resulting in the "denuclearization" no weapons programs, no uranium enrichment programs, no spent-fuel recovery programs of the Korean peninsula.
Why is a Six-Party China, Russia, Japan, DPRK, ROK and the U.S. partial re-institution of the Agreed Framework necessary?
Recall that, in the run-up to his war of aggression against Iraq, Bush unilaterally abrogated the U.S.-DPRK bilateral Agreed Framework, on the pretext that some un-named DPRK official had "admitted" to some un-named U.S. official at a cocktail party that the charges Bonkers Bolton et al had been making that DPRK had a secret enriched-uranium bomb project were true.
Of course, once Bush abrogated the Agreed Framework which had required North Korea to remain a signatory to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons North Korea withdrew from the NPT (which automatically rendered its Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency null and void), restarted its “frozen” plutonium-producing (as a by-product) reactor, announced it was going to separate out the by-product weapons-grade plutonium and use it to construct a “nuclear deterrent.”
Last October the North Koreans according to the Bush Administration conducted an at least partially successful test of a plutonium-based nuclear device. Furthermore, they are credited with having produced enough weapons-grade plutonium to make at least a half-dozen more nukes.
But, even now, the North Koreans continue to deny that they ever had or "admitted" to having a Uranium-235 nuke program. Furthermore, the "intelligence" that Bush-Rice showed the Chinese about the alleged DPRK U-235 nuke program at the beginning of the current Six-Party talks the principal goal of which is the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was "unconvincing."
Nevertheless, Bush-Rice ever the diplomat is going to try to make DPRK prove that they dont now have a Uranium-235 nuke program, or didnt have the Uranium-235 nuke materials and production equipment that Bonkers Bolton has suggested they tried to ship to Iran, last month, by way of Syria.
It is not clear what will happen if the Koreans, Chinese, Russians and Japanese come to an agreement with North Korea, acceptable to them, that diplomat Bush-Rice refuses to sign.
(Nor is it clear what will happen if the IAEA Board of Governors comes to an agreement with Iran that diplomat Bush-Rice refuses to sign. Nor what will happen if the Nuclear Suppliers Group comes to an agreement with India that diplomat Bush-Rice refuses to sign.)
What is clear is that, irrespective of what the Six-Party talks accomplish, both Koreas are deadly serious about negotiating in a separate forum a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War, which began in 1950.
But theres a problem.
A few weeks ago, in meetings with Bush, ROK President Roh apparently thought that he had gotten a commitment from Bush to allow those ROK-DPRK peace talks to go forward. Bush immediately disabused him of that notion.
“I can’t make it any more clear, Mr. President. We look forward to the day when we can end the Korean War. That will happen when Kim Jong-il verifiably gets rid of his weapons programs and his weapons.”
So, how come Bush thinks hes in a position to dictate the terms of a peace settlement of the Korean War?
Thereby hangs a tale.
On August 8th, 1945, the Soviet Union as promised declared war on Japan and on August 10th entered and liberated the neighboring Korean Peninsula, which had been "annexed" by the Japanese in 1910.
Before withdrawing, in 1948, the Soviets established the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea in the North. But, that same year, President Truman got the United Nations to recognize the U.S.-established Republic of Korea to be the sole legal government of Korea.
So, two years later, the DPRK regime attempted to supplant the ROK regime.
Whereupon, Truman got the Security Council to recommend that “Members of the United Nations furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack and to restore international peace and security in the area.”
When U.S.-led armed forces not only repelled the armed attack on the South, but attempted to eliminate the DPRK regime in the North, “hordes” of “volunteers” from the Peoples Republic of China also not recognized by the UN poured across the Yalu River.
A military stalemate eventually ensued and in 1953 an armistice was signed between the commanding general of the UN forces and the commanding generals of the DPRK and PRC "peoples" armies making the 38th Parallel the dividing line between the UN recognized ROK and the still unrecognized DPRK.
Guess whos the Commander-in-Chief of the UN forces still in the ROK.
And whos the Commander-in-Chief of the DPRK peoples army"?
Whos the Commander-in-Chief of the PRC "peoples" army?
Thats a good question.
But whoever he is, hes a Commie, has recently conducted military exercises with his Russian opposite number, has hundreds of thermo-nukes atop ICBMs and more than $1.2 trillion in foreign reserve assets, of which more than $420 billion are U.S. Treasury securities.
If Bush-Rice really wants an "enduring foreign policy victory" he might just want to sign a peace treaty with that guy, whoever he is.