North Korea: Unravelling already? North Korea: Unravelling already?
I agree with Dan Kervick's comment that "it doesn't really matter who delivers first as long as the deliveries both take place".

In fact the common statement makes no precise commitment as to the timing of either delivery except that they should both be incremental and effectively simultaneous.

First we have "The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning at an early date to the treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT) and to IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards."

Then a bit later "The DPRK stated that it has the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The other parties expressed their respect and agreed to discuss at an appropriate time the subject of the provision of light-water reactor to the DPRK."

And near the end "The six parties agreed to take coordinated steps to implement the aforementioned consensus in a phased manner in line with the principle of 'commitment for commitment, action for action.' "

So one of the deliveries will be "soon" and the other "at an appropriate time" and of course what is appropriate may depend on who is doing the judging. It is not inconsistent for the DPRK to say that an appropriate time is before soon, and the last bit quoted above makes it hard to argue that they are not intended to be effectively simultaneous.

While this certainly does not support the DPRK posturing, neither does it support the claim that "only once North Korea has verifiably abandoned its nuclear program and joined the NPT will discussions on the light-water reactor even begin". The question of who is the idiot depends on who spoke first (and since the conversation may have been private we'll never know the answer).

Also, I find Suzanne's "A good-faith misunderstanding? Not likely. The Administration has, at least publicly, always been vehement that ..." to be unconvincing. It basically amounts to claiming that the other's interpretation of the agreement must be wrong because it doesn't match the USA's initial position ... which is something many of us in the world have heard before in other contexts. For example, your characterization of others with whom you have negotiated as "slippery" begs the question of what adjective to apply to a nation which basically forces an agreement on a binding resolution mechanism for trade disputes and then refuses to honour it when someone at home doesn't like the result.

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