Friday, August 29, 2003

le parcours

A Post article about the 34-minute London blackout yields one interesting tidbit: London's power comes from a French-owned company! To wit:

A spokesman for French-owned firm EDF Energy, which supplies the British capital, said it appeared to be a problem with a cable feed from the national grid in the Wimbledon area in south London.

Israel is prepared to bomb Iran if need be.

Moving over to Korea...

Check out Kevin at IA's "Korean Politics in Pictures" and the much scarier "Robot Girls Gone Wild."

The Chosun Ilbo has interesting (and unintentionally humorous) commentary on the Robot Girls incident Kevin talks about.

The Marmot comments on NK's latest attempt at scrotum-waving.

According to an ABC News article, NK waved its balls around, only to whisk them away suddenly and threaten not to show them a second time unless the US stopped showing hostility to its balls. More as this develops.

Quick digression:

Something morbidly fascinating, horrifying and depressing all at once: WTC-related transcript excerpts of Port Authority communications. There's nearly 2000 pages of transcript. I hate to say it, but if the government's hard up for cash (and if they can jump the legal hurdles from concerned families), this is a shoo-in as a bestseller.

Dammit, there can be only ONE Poet Laureate in the Mike World Order! Will no one rid me of this meddlesome hack?

Back to the meaty meaticles:

A Post article on NK's nuke test bluster. Highlights:

The isolated country has a history of alarmist rhetoric, sometimes followed by confrontation, sometimes by conciliation.

Despite the announcement, diplomats agreed early today to resume talks within two months, according to the China News Service, a semi-official news agency in Beijing.

The apparent agreement on more meetings constitutes a small but important step in precarious negotiations aimed at persuading the Stalinist state to abandon its nuclear weapons program in return for diplomatic and economic openings to its neighbors and the United States.

We did mention histrionics and fainting spells and seizures, right? I agree with the other Koreabloggers that the agreement to meet again isn't necessarily a ringing triumph.

As far as the NK regime is concerned, a "win" is anything that maintains the status quo and/or adds concessions to it. A loss is anything that calls NK's bluff. NK knows that, if it goes to war, it loses. If its government collapses, it also loses.

The U.S. official who had read the diplomatic cable reported that the Chinese delegates who had worked hard to coax the United States and North Korea to the table were visibly upset, while the Japanese, South Koreans and Russians were taken aback.

Du calme, du calme... this is all pro forma.

The effort to deny the uranium-enrichment program, which U.S. officials say North Korea has already admitted to and U.S. intelligence has confirmed, suggests that Kim's government would be unwilling to permit the intrusive inspections the Bush administration wants. Intensive verification measures are considered essential to test the veracity of North Korea's claims.

The very ballsiness about which I wrote previously. Oh, how they lie.

North Korea has defied international pressure since October, when Kim's government admitted having a secret uranium-enrichment project along with a suspended program to make weapons from plutonium. Pyongyang soon evicted foreign inspectors, withdrew from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, activated a reprocessing plant for spent fuel rods and restarted the shuttered nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.

I wish the papers wouldn't be misleading. That first sentence should read, "...defied international pressure since 1953."

The talks were held in the Diaoyutai State Guest House, an isolated collection of villas and gardens in western Beijing. The six parties were arrayed around a hexagonal table, and the Chinese put the U.S. delegation, led by Kelly, next to its North Korean counterpart, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Yong Il.

Is it my imagination, or does "Diaoyutai" sound like a guy with a stuffy nose shouting "NOW YOU DIE!"?

Kim and Kelly ended four months of official high-level silence between the two nations on Wednesday when they huddled for roughly 35 minutes in an informal meeting following a day of six-party talks. A U.S. official said it was during those talks that Kim told the American that North Korea intended to stage a nuclear test.

Roughly 35 minutes... the London power outage lasted 34 minutes... connection?

A Chicago Tribune article about NK's mixed messages. Highlights:

By raising the specter of a nuclear test, which Washington has long warned would escalate the diplomatic conflict with North Korea to a critical level, Pyongyang's delegation in Beijing sought again to stoke tensions over its nuclear weapons program, either to gain negotiating advantage or to position itself for a more dangerous confrontation, analysts said.

The more things change...

The U.S. sought to portray North Korea's latest threat to conduct a nuclear test as part of a predictable pattern of negotiating brinkmanship. Throughout this week's talks, the Bush administration has tried to keep the spotlight off Pyongyang by saying very little about what is happening around the hexagonal conference table at a Chinese guesthouse.

Kim Jong Il: I'm insane, I tell you! Insane! Look! Look at my balls! (jiggles balls madly)

Bush to Putin: Heh.

Putin: Puny little things, aren't they.

Bush: Huh? I was laughing at his "Dear Leader" lapel pin. He's wearing a picture of himself!

Putin: I hear he's also got Kim Jong Il butt-floss.

Bush: Well, he ain't wearin' any butt-floss now, is he. Jesus, he's shaking his balls at us! Ha! Puny little things, aren't they.

Putin: Sigh...

From a article:

A pact to meet again was about the best anyone had predicted out of the six-country conference, which convened Wednesday and brought together the United States, the two Koreas, Japan, China and Russia. "No one expected this first round of talks would produce agreement on all issues," said Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-hyuck, the head of South Korea's delegation.

I think quite a few newspaper pundits would beg to differ... if you can find them out in the open. The Koreabloggers (I won't include myself in this; mine is only, uh, "borrowed" cynicism) knew this all along.

All the governments represented in Beijing had expressed varying degrees of opposition to the North's nuclear programs. China, a longtime political ally of North Korea, has also said repeatedly that it wants a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

Its delegation leader, Wang, said American officials pledged they weren't trying to do in North Korea what they did in Iraq.

"The U.S. said that the U.S. had no intention to threaten North Korea, no intention to invade North Korea, no intention to work for regime change in North Korea," Wang said.

(fingers crossed)

From the Chosun Ilbo:

A White House spokeswoman, Claire Buchan, responded to the warning, saying that North Korea had a history of making "inflammatory comments" and such comments will further isolate it from the outside world. President George W. Bush will not step back from his original promise to not tolerate North Korea's nuclear development programs, she said.

Oh, how NK would loooooove a Clintonian Democrat in the White House-- one who's got a way with fancy diplo-speak and the ability to look the other way.

You'll learn so much about Korean society just from reading this story. Enjoy.

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