TOKYO, Feb. 10 - In a surprising admission, North Korea's hard-line Communist government declared publicly for the first time today that it has nuclear weapons. It also said that it will boycott United States-sponsored regional talks designed to end its nuclear program, according to a North Korean Foreign Ministry statement transmitted today by the reclusive nation's wire service.
Pyongyang said it has "manufactured nukes for self-defense to cope with the Bush administration's undisguised policy to isolate and stifle" North Korea, and that it will "bolster its nuclear weapons arsenal."
The statement, considered a definitive policy pronouncement, said that North Korea is pulling out of the talks after concluding that the second Bush administration would pursue the "brazen-faced, double-dealing tactics" of dialogue and "regime change."
Four hours before the official Korean Central News Agency transmitted the pullout statement, a top Bush administration official told reporters here that North Korea's return to the nuclear talks was expected by all other participants the United States, Japan, South Korea, Russia and China.
"The onus is really on North Korea," said John R. Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, noting that the last time the parties met was in June.
Referring to North Korea's bomb making capability, he added: "The absence of progress in six-party talks means they are making further progress toward their increased capability."
It is unclear if North Korea is definitively slamming the door to talks or merely trying to raise its price for returning to the bargaining table.
"We are compelled to suspend our participation in the talks for an indefinite period," the statement said, adding that North Korea would only return when "there are ample conditions and atmosphere to expect positive results from the talks."
So let's get this straight: America invaded Iraq because they were a gathering/imanent/obvious threat, but N. Korea...well, that's hard work...and we're workin' hard....Actually it looks like we're scared of 'em....
Meanwhile, as Americablog also notes, the EU is now selling weapons to China.
So how does the latest game stack up?
EU neutral, but willing to be nice to China...
Japan, strongly in the US's camp, because well, China's all growed up now, and is militarizing...
The latest rallying point involves the economic rights to a large swath of the Pacific Ocean around an uninhabited Japanese atoll 1,100 miles southwest of Tokyo. Mr. Ishihara, now the governor of Tokyo, briefed Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi last week on a plan to cement Japan's claim to the ocean rights by building a power plant near Okinotori Island and encouraging commercial fishing.
"We will conduct economic activities there," the governor said. "We will not let China say anything about it."
That kind of talk breaks with the stereotype of modern Japan's make-no-waves foreign policy and is all the more remarkable considering the huge economic stake Japan has in China. Long the leading destination for Japanese foreign investment, China last week displaced the United States as Japan's biggest single trading partner.
But China's "peaceful rise" makes Japan nervous. It has reacted by building up its lukewarm partnership with the United States into a rock-solid alliance. One major step was to send troops to help the American-led coalition in Iraq, overcoming deep qualms about overseas deployment.
"The Japanese government has been greatly emboldened by the perceived success of the alliance with the United States in the last few years," said Takashi Inoguchi, a Tokyo University professor of international politics.
There is little love lost between Asia's two economic titans. Japan lobbies Europe and Russia not to sell advanced weapons to China's military; China opposes Japan's aspirations to a seat on the United Nations Security Council. China fumes at Japan's friendly relations with Taiwan; Japan wonders why it is giving aid to a nation that has a program to put a man on the moon.
For years, Japan reflexively smoothed over any frictions with China. But its patience may be spent. Last November, Japanese destroyers chased a Chinese submarine from the waters around Japan's southernmost islands; in December, Japan formally identified China as a potential military threat. Ignoring Chinese objections, Japan welcomed Lee Teng-hui, a former president of Taiwan, on a visit last month, and the Dalai Lama is expected in April.
And N. Korea is still, well, a real, big threat....
Oh, and Taiwan? Where's Taiwan again?
We are so screwed thanks to these neo-cons...