Why is North Korea Now Cooperative?

There has been a breakthrough in talks with North Korea Sunday, as reported by CNN here. The devil however will be in the details, and this could be false accomodation to get them through until the next US election cycle is over, that’s happened in the past.

What’s behind this change? Critics of President Bush’s six party talks diplomatic process will certainly need to eat a lot of crow if this does work, so is there weight behind it?

The conclusion I come to is yes. There are several factors in play, I’ll list a few below:

1. Energy, energy, energy. Nepal can’t pay their electric bill, neither can Bhutan, and several other small nations are in crisis over increasing energy demand, and the temporary market price increase. Pakistan and others “load shed” during peak demands to compensate for the increased costs they haven’t budgeted for. North Korea’s even in a worse pinch.

2. China has created the demand by going more capitalistic and by the subsequent increase in industrialization. They are also getting ready to showcase their country as they host the Olympics, and they want to be seen in a good light.

3. Japan’s steady increase in Militarization is driven by North Korea’s sabre-rattling — with the multiple missile tests and the nuclear test, DPRK created a result they don’t want, and one that China does not want. Japan now has Aegis cruisers, PAC-3 defense systems, and they are in process of creating offensive military capabilities for the first time since WWII. This has eyebrows raising all over Asia, though few have noted it here.

Hat’s off to the Bush team for creating this breakthrough by leveraging geopolitical realities. Who knows — perhaps over the long haul we can get to normalized relations with North Korea, wouldn’t that be different if it were to occur over the next 20 years?