FROM Selig Harrison
North Korea to Halt Nuclear Program in Exchange for US Aid North Korea has agreed to suspend nuclear weapons tests and uranium enrichment, and to allow international inspectors to monitor its main reactor. In exchange, the US has pledged to ship food aid to the impoverished nation. Selig Harrison, Director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy in Washington, and author of Korean Endgame : A Strategy for Reunification and US Disengagement, has visited North Korea eleven times, most recently in 2009.
About Face by North Korea on South's Military Drills If South Korean conducted live-fire drills on an island in the Yellow Sea, North Korea threatened "brutal consequences beyond imagination." But after drills began today, the North said it was "not worth reacting." New Mexico Governor and former diplomat Bill Richardson, who just spent five days in Pyongyang, was hopeful . "Maybe we had a little impact with them." Selig Harrison, director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy, is a frequent visitor to the North and author of Korean Endgame .
Two Koreas to Meet in DMZ after Key Appointments in North For the first time in two years, North and South Korea will hold talks on military issues tomorrow on the border at Panmunjom. But the bigger news from the Korean Peninsula is the awarding of major new titles to Kim Jong-un, the youngest son of North Korea's "dear leader," Kim Jong-Il. Selig Harrison directs the Asia program at the Center for International Policy in Washington.
Nuclear Non-Proliferation and America's Deal with Vietnam The Obama Administration has set what's called the "gold standard" for helping other countries develop nuclear energy. The United Arab Emirates agreed not to enrich uranium on its own soil, a path to producing nuclear weapons. But Vietnam will be under no such restrictions. Vietnam says it won't build atom bombs, but nonproliferation advocates are outraged. They call it a risky giveaway to America's nuclear industry. Nuclear advocates say enrichment is no big secret, and that US squeamishness poses another risk: falling behind in a multi-billion dollar international business. What does it all have to do with China?
War and Peace in Afghanistan President Obama is on the verge of a momentous decision: should he agree to General Stanley McChrystal's request for some 40,000 more troops in Afghanistan? After a week of strategy sessions, today's New York Times says the President is " impatient ."
War and Peace in the Graveyard of Empires Last week, President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, as he concluded a series of strategy sessions on the eight-year old war in Afghanistan. Efforts to defeat the Taliban, create a credible government and help the civilian population are failing. The countryside is so dangerous that aid workers can't leave the capital city to advise farmers on growing crops. General Stanley McChrystal wants to add 40,000 troops to the 68,000 already there, to fight the Taliban and to establish effective civilian government. It could take decades to control corruption, establish a justice system and prop up the economy at the cost of billions of American dollars and thousands of lives. What are the alternatives? What are America's goals? We look at the options.
Will Reporters' Release Warm North Korea-US Relations? Former President Bill Clinton touched down at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank this morning with two American journalists. After months of captivity in North Korea and a sentence of 12 years at hard labor, Laura Ling described what happened yesterday when she and Euna Lee were told to go to a meeting.
Will Reporters' Release Warm North Korea-US Relations? After months of captivity in North Korea and a sentence of 12 years at hard labor, Laura Ling described what happened yesterday when she and Euna Lee were told to go to a meeting. Ling spoke to reporters this morning at the airport in Burbank, California along with Al Gore. The two journalists were on assignment in China for Gore’s Current TV when they were arrested for crossing the border into North Korea. Reportedly, it was Gore who told Bill Clinton that North Korea asked him to visit in return for setting the journalists free. The White House has emphasized that Clinton went as a private citizen. Did the President ask Clinton to convey a message to Kim Jong Il?
Bill Clinton Meets Kim Jong Il in North Korea The White House says Bill Clinton's visit to North Korea is "solely private," and that any official comment might "jeopardize" his mission. He's there to secure the release of two American journalists recently sentenced to 12 years at hard labor. Shortly after Clinton's arrival today, pictures of the former president with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il were circulated around the world. Selig Harrison, veteran of many visits to North Korea, is Director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy in Washington.
Missile Tests and Tension on the Korean Peninsula The US and South Korea have raised their alert levels to counter North Korea's recent underground nuclear test and test-firing of short-range missiles. When the UN Security Council responded with tough talk , Pyongyang threatened "military action" if South Korea joined other nations in trying to stop North Korean shipping. Long-time Washington Post Northeast Asia Bureau Chief Selig Harrison heads the Center for International Policy's Asia Program and says he's "in touch" with North Korean diplomats at the UN.
Update on North Korea North Korea was part of President Bush's "axis of evil," but it's about to be removed from the US list of countries that sponsor terrorism. That's in exchange for turning over a long-awaited inventory of its nuclear program to China. In the White House Rose Garden today, the President described the latest diplomatic agreement , offering North Korea both the proverbial carrot and stick. Selig Harrison is director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy and chairman of its Task Force on US-Korea Policy.
New UN Sanctions against Iran Last week's UN Security Council vote to sanction Iran for nuclear development was just one vote short of unanimous. But the sanctions themselves were much weaker than the Bush Administration had wanted as proof that Iran is isolated from the international community. Will the sanctions against program help to isolate a major regional power? Is Iran more interested in what's happening next door in Iraq? Are the US and Iran engaged in what amounts to a Cold War in the Middle East?
Pakistan, Afghanistan and America's War on Terror More bad news today for President Pervez Musharraf whose party took a big hit in Pakistan's parliamentary elections. The two main opposition parties have agreed on a "common agenda" which could mean negotiations with militant forces, including the Taliban. Whatever else it could mean, it will not include anyone from the President's former governing coalition. Can Musharraf survive? How will Pakistan shape events in neighboring Afghanistan, where NATO forces already are hard pressed? Should the US stay deeply involved or pull back to make way for a regional, non-military reconciliation?
American Presidential Politics and Pakistan Illinois Senator Barack Obama made headlines in the US and across the world this week. As President, he said, he would launch military strikes in northwestern Pakistan under certain conditions. His Democratic opponents and Pakistan's government have denounced that idea, but for different reasons. With Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda rebuilding in that region, is it time to get tough with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf? We hear more about Musharraf's political troubles and his reliability as an American ally. Has tough action—in Pakistan as well as Afghanistan—already had unintended consequences, including demands by ethnic Pashtuns for their own country?
Civil Unrest in Iran For the past several weeks, the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has cracked down on signs of cultural openness and dissent in Iran. Because of his increased efforts to enrich nuclear materials, the US and some of its allies have been threatening international sanctions. Last month, Ahmadinejad raised gasoline prices by 25 percent and last week, without advance notice, he instituted gasoline rationing. Demonstrators set fire to at least a dozen gas stations in Tehran and chanted slogans against Ahmadinejad. Banks, supermarkets and fire engines were attacked, and there are reports of trouble in other big cities, too. Will such civil unrest provide an opportunity for the West to get tough or to ask Iranian moderates for help in Iraq and Afghanistan?
North Korea and Nuclear Weapons North Korea's top nuclear negotiator is in New York today, meeting US officials on steps toward establishing diplomatic relations. In 2002, President Bush called North Korea part of his " Axis of Evil ." He accused Pyongyang of breaking a 1994 deal made with the Clinton Administration that provided food and fuel oil in exchange for a freeze on North Korea's nuclear weapons program. After the President's accusations, the deal was off, and last October, North Korea tested a nuclear bomb. But last week, intelligence officials told the New York Times they not so sure what North Korea was really up to. Did mistakes in Washington lead hawks on both sides to escalate a dangerous confrontation? In the meantime, why does the US need to re-design its nuclear warheads?
The Trump agenda: where's the beef? President Trump says big things are happening. After celebrating a House bill on health care, he doesn’t yet have Senate agreement. With James Comey’s public testimony scheduled tomorrow, the President today tweeted his selection of a new FBI Director. Is the Chief Executive all style and no substance? Later, terror attacks in Iran and conflicting claims about who’s behind them.
Human Rights in the era of Donald Trump President Trump’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, said today the US might pull out of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Serious violators of human rights are members of the Council itself–and a US resignation could make things worse. Later on today’s show, now that he’s into his second term, comedian turned US Senator Al Franken is telling jokes again.
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.