Gennady Chufrin is deputy director of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. Upon graduation from Leningrad State University in 1958, he served for four years on Soviet economic teams in Indonesia and India. After earning a Ph.D. in international economics from Leningrad State University in 1965, he was appointed an assistant on the economic faculty there from 1961 to 1965. He was an economist and department head of Soviet Trade Representation in Indonesia in 1965-69 and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Marketing Research in Moscow in 1970-73. From 1973 to 1978 he served as First Secretary and Counselor in the Soviet embassies in India and Pakistan. In 1979 he became department head at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Soviet/Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. After receiving his professor degree in international economics there in 1981, he served as Deputy Director of the Institute until 1997. In 1994 he was elected associate member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. From 1998 to 2002, he was a project leader at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). In 2002 he assumed his current post at IMEMO. Chufrin is the author or co-author of 12 monographs and over 140 articles published in Russia and abroad.
The North Korean nuclear program and six-party talks
Northeast Asia is not only one of the most important, but also one of the most tension-filled regions in the present world. Judging from the prevailing trends, it may retain this reputation for the foreseeable future. Indeed, its role as one of the principal centers of global economic activity may be enhanced further if China’s economic success story continues and Japan overcomes its current recession. Yet the state of security in Northeast Asia continues to cause deep concern because the relationships between regional states—or at least some of them—are burdened with a host of political, economic and ideological differences as well as rival territorial claims. These inter-state disputes and contested claims undermine regional stability and may trigger serious conflicts.
A particularly high security risk in and around the Korean Peninsula is manifested by the world’s largest concentration of combat-ready troops facing each other across the 38th parallel. At one time, it seemed, tensions there started to de-escalate and the North Korean regime was opening up to the outside world. At the end of 2002, however, the positive engagement of North Korea in international relations was disrupted after the North, accusing the United States of threatening its security, acknowledged the existence of a uranium enrichment program. In the next few months the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K.) further escalated tensions on the Korean Peninsula when it withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), expelled International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, moved to restart its plutonium production program frozen under the 1994 U.S.-D.P.R.K. Agreed Framework and then withdrew from the 1992 agreement with the Republic of Korea (ROK) on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
In the wake of the U.S.-led military campaign against Iraq, Pyongyang further hardened its position on the nuclear issue because it became increasingly convinced that possession of nuclear deterrence forces probably constituted the only credible guarantee of its survival in the face of the perceived U.S. threat. Since the prime goal of the North Korean leadership was to ensure the continuity and security of its regime, the D.P.R.K. declared its intention to develop nuclear weapons unless it received direct and unambiguous security guarantees from the United States. Needless to say, these developments had a strong negative impact on the overall security situation in Northeast Asia and even beyond this region.
In an effort to de-escalate the tensions caused by the North Korean nuclear program and to avert its destabilizing consequences for regional and global security, the United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea began their search for effective political methods to resolve the problem. Since August 2003 these states and North Korea have held three rounds of six-party talks in Beijing, a channel for all concerned parties to resolve the nuclear crisis through dialogue and cooperation. The results of the third round of these talks held in June 2004 produced a measure of cautious optimism among some participants and observers. This optimism was caused, first, by a more productive atmosphere than at the previous two rounds of talks, which allowed participants to concentrate on searching for a comprehensive solution to the problem. Second, the United States put forward a constructive enough proposal, which could have served as a basis for an eventual agreement. Its main points included demands to North Korea to dismantle all its nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible way; to place under international control all its missile materials; and to return IAEA inspectors to the country. In return, the United States would agree to the resumption of heavy fuel oil deliveries to North Korea by Japan and South Korea and offer provisional security guarantees. On its part, North Korea seemed to respond positively to these proposals by offering to freeze its military nuclear program and to start negotiations on dismantling equipment related to this program in return for assistance in energy supplies, lifting of economic sanctions and security guarantees from the United States.[1. Kommersant. Moscow. June 24, 2004.] One month after the completion of the third round of six-party talks, the U.S. Secretary of State and the North Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs held a meeting in Jakarta which left the impression that the principal parties in conflict were reducing their differences on the nuclear issue.
North Korea goes nuclear: reaction of its partners in six-party talks
The impression of reduced differences proved to be wrong. The United States continued to insist on the cessation of all North Korean nuclear programs, including those for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, a demand that Pyongyang called unacceptable. North Korea was also strongly offended by some public statements made during the U.S. presidential campaign, including those by President Bush himself, about the nature of the North Korean regime. All this resulted in North Korea’s refusal to attend the fourth round of six-party talks scheduled for September 2004. Citing hostile U.S. policy aimed allegedly at changing the existing political regime in North Korea by force, including by use of preventive nuclear strikes, Pyongyang’s UN envoy declared on September 28, 2005 that his country had reprocessed 8,000 spent fuel rods and was using the extracted plutonium for creation of nuclear weapons for its self-defense.[2. Kommersant. Moscow. September 29, 2004.]
On February 10, 2005, the North Korean government made another statement that strained the situation even more, claiming it actually possessed nuclear weapons. Simultaneously the D.P.R.K. announced suspension of its participation in the six-party talks for an indefinite period. The official statement released by the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs on this occasion read, “We had already taken a resolute action of pulling out of the NPT and have manufactured nukes for self-defense to cope with the Bush administration’s undisguised policy to isolate and stifle the D.P.R.K. Our nuclear weapons will remain nuclear deterrent for self-defense under any circumstances.” [3. http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/4252515.stm.]
Thus, the reason given for these actions was again the hostile policy of the United States toward North Korea. There may be some truth in this, but it also seems true that the D.P.R.K.’s nuclear declaration was made deliberately at the time when, in the opinion of North Korean leadership, the United States was tied down in Iraq, making it more accommodating to North Korean demands of security guarantees and more likely to abandon its intention to change the regime in Pyongyang. The North Korean leaders, however, seriously misjudged the reaction of the international community to Pyongyang’s nuclear declaration. The statements were deeply deplored throughout the world, including by all the other countries that participated in the six-party talks.
The United States interpreted the North Korean statement as a confirmation of its earlier suspicions that Pyongyang had already been in possession of nuclear weapons since the 1990s. Washington also rejected the D.P.R.K.’s proposal to hold direct talks, which was made following North Korea’s announcement that it had become a nuclear power. During her March 2005 visits to Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reiterated Washington’s stand that no direct talks with Pyongyang were possible and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was in the national interests of all parties involved in the six-party negotiations. Therefore, continuation of the six-party talks would be the best and most effective way to solve the North Korean nuclear problem. Emphasizing the U.S. commitment to a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear crisis, Ms. Rice stated not only that the U.S. had no intentions of invading or attacking North Korea, but also that it was prepared to provide security assurances to Pyongyang if the latter was ready to negotiate seriously. She also stated that the six-party talks should be resumed as early as possible, warning Pyongyang that the stalemate over North Korea’s nuclear arms program cannot go on forever.[4. Nezavisimaya gazeta. Moscow. March 22, 2005; http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2005/43660.htm.]
Among possible steps that Washington considered was referring the issue to the UN Security Council and asking for imposition of international sanctions against North Korea.[5. New York Times. New York. February 14, 2005; April 25, 2005.] Also in case of further delay by North Korea to re-start the talks, Washington was reported to contemplate a set of more assertive steps (“tool kit”) aimed at tracking down and stopping North Korean export sales of missiles and other weapons technologies as well as at undercutting its drug trafficking and counterfeit deals. Washington was reported to consider adoption of punitive measures within the framework of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) against North Korea. In other words, in spite of the conciliatory tone maintained by Ms. Rice during her tour of Japan, South Korea and China, the United States did not exclude more assertive steps in dealing with the North Korean nuclear problem. [6. Preparing American as well as international public opinion for such options, Porter Goss, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, told the US Senate committee on intelligence that North Korea “could resume flight testing (of missiles) at any time, including the Taepodong-2 system.” He also said: “We believe North Korea probably has chemical and possibly biological weapons for use.” (Japan Times. (City?) March 24, 2005) Such statements may, however, be counter-productive. Painfully resembling similar pronouncements by U.S. high officials before the US invasion of Iraq, they may only increase fears in Pyongyang of an imminent U.S. attack on North Korea and harden its stand on the nuclear issue.]
Japan and South Korea also expressed their sincere regret and deep concern over the situation in the region following Pyongyang’s proclamation of possessing nuclear weapons. They strongly urged North Korea to resume its participation in the six-party talks, which, in their opinion, was in the best interests of all countries involved in them, North Korea above all.
That was where the similarity between Japan’s and South Korea’s attitudes to the current stage of the North Korean nuclear crisis largely ended. Indeed, Japan took a tougher stand on this issue and demanded from North Korea not only a return to the six-party talks at an early date without any preconditions, but also a commitment to complete dismantling of all its nuclear programs. Japan, similar to the United States, was also in favor of imposing more stringent economic sanctions on North Korea if it refused to yield to these demands. It was also prepared to join the United States in applying measures under the PSI against North Korea.
Without denying the seriousness of the situation that developed in Northeast Asia after Pyongyang’s nuclear declaration and the new security threats it created, it seems that Japan’s tough policy on North Korea was motivated not only by the need to respond to North Korean actions per se but also by the need to justify its own plans to revise the country’s constitution, which limits the role of armed forces and the scope of their use.
Contrary to Japan, the Roh Moo-hyun administration of South Korea clearly favored a more conciliatory approach to North Korea. The South Korean authorities did not support the idea of sanctions. Moreover, they indicated that the ROK did not plan to stop humanitarian aid to the North or to withdraw from joint economic ventures with it.[7. At the same time, however, President Roh Moo-hyun warned North Korea that his country will not give it any major aid until the standoff over its nuclear weapons program ends. http://www.nti.org/d_newswire/issues/2005_4_13.html.] Neither did South Korea support U.S. and Japanese intentions to refer the North Korean case to the UN Security Council. Instead, the South Korean government advocated “persuasion, not pressure” in dealing with North Korea. Their reason was that North Korea should not be antagonized any further but instead should be drawn into a constructive dialogue by flexible policies. As a front-line state, South Korea was particularly sensitive to the possibility of a military conflict on the Peninsula that would have devastating consequences for the country and its population even if the nuclear weapons were not used. Therefore, the South Korean government wanted to induce North Korea to resume negotiations by ‘soft methods.’ In doing so, it enjoyed support of a sizeable part of the Korean electorate.[8. Kommersant. Moscow. March 23, 2005.] It is worth noting in this regard what one of the influential South Korean newspapers, Korea Times, wrote only a few weeks before the nuclear crisis escalated: “… war must be prevented on the Korean Peninsula at any cost; no other agenda can be seen as more urgent and important than the survival of the 70 million people in North and South Korea . . . our unswerving policy is that the nuclear crisis should be resolved peacefully through dialogue and diplomatic efforts by all parties concerned.” [9. Korea Times. Seoul. January 2, 2005.]
China’s policy on the North Korean nuclear crisis
Unquestionably, both Japan and the R.O.K. have at their disposal economic leverage such as humanitarian assistance, money transfers and joint ventures to try to bring North Korea back to the negotiation table. But their possible influence is incomparable to that of China, which remains the D.P.R.K.’s key ally and a main source of its outside aid, including supplies of fuel and rice. According to current estimates, about 70 to 80 percent of all such aid provided to North Korea comes from China. Every year China is reported to send one million tons of crude oil and about 150,000 to 200,000 tons of refined oil products to the D.P.R.K..
China, however, refuses to use economic leverage on North Korea for many reasons of its own. First, Beijing does not want the collapse of North Korea because it is a buffer state separating China from having a U.S. military presence on its own borders. Second, the possible collapse of North Korea as a sovereign state may force many thousands of its citizens and their families to try to cross the border to China, thereby creating a large-scale humanitarian problem on Chinese territory. Third, anticipating an imminent standoff with the U.S. in East Asia over a range of problems, including the future of Taiwan, China does not want to strengthen the U.S. positions there by undermining its own ally. Besides, China already tried to use economic pressure on North Korea by briefly stopping oil supplies in 2003. It did not produce the intended results, however, since North Korea was fully aware of the limits of such pressure in the context of China’s own interests.
Reluctance to use economic pressure on Pyongyang does not mean, however, that China is supportive of North Korea’s nuclear policy. On the contrary, Chinese leaders, including President Hu Jintao, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, have repeatedly stated that China stood for a denuclearized, peaceful and stable Korean Peninsula and the return of North Korea to the six-party talks.[10. Xinhua News Agency. (City?) February 18, 2005; New York Times, March 21, 2005.] It meant that China’s strategy in resolving the nuclear crisis was based not on using sanctions against North Korea, but on the continuation of the multilateral negotiation process. Only through dialogue, maintained Chinese leaders, can confrontation be reduced, understanding enhanced and compromise reached. China’s interest in securing the dialogue process was obviously motivated by its belief that as long as the talks were on, the United States would not take the matter to the UN Security Council or make a military strike against North Korea. On the other hand, further stalemate may cause an option China very much wanted to avoid—further escalation of the conflict that eventually results in a U.S. military operation against North Korea in spite of the denials of such a possibility by Washington.
On its part, China continued to favor quiet diplomacy in its relations with Pyongyang, which on the one hand helped North Korea to withstand otherwise almost universal political and economic pressure and on the other hand was directed at persuading Pyongyang to return to the negotiation table and refrain from excessively escalatory steps.
According to Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, “the legitimate concerns of the D.P.R.K. should be addressed.” He added that since “the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is very complicated,” China expected “the relevant parties, particularly those major parties concerned” to “undertake their responsibilities, demonstrate flexibility, sincerity and patience and work for an early reopening of the talks.”[11. Xinhua News Agency. (City?) March 6, 2005.] Beijing continued to oppose imposition of punitive sanctions against North Korea and at the same time called on principal conflicting parties to find mutually acceptable compromises.
In the second half of February 2005 China sent a high-level party official, Wang Jiariu, to Pyongyang where he met North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and conveyed to him a message from President Hu Jintao. This message explicitly stated that China’s position was in favor of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as well as in favor of continuation of the six-party talks. It also called on the D.P.R.K. to return to the negotiations. The North Korean leader responded to this message by stating that the D.P.R.K. was not opposed to the six-party talks, nor did it intend to withdraw from the process. He promised to return to the negotiation table but only when “conditions are ripe” and the United States showed “trustworthy sincerity.” [12. New York Times. New York. February 22, 2005; RIA Novosti. March 1, 2005.]
This stand of North Korea on the negotiation process was reiterated by D.P.R.K. Premier Pak Bong Ju during his visit to Beijing in the middle of March 2005. He also stated that North Korea continued “to adhere to its position on a nuclear-free Peninsula and a final solution of the nuclear issue through dialogue.”[13. Xinhua News Agency. (City?) March 23, 2005.] It allowed China to interpret the North Korean position as being in favor of resolving the nuclear crisis through dialogue and negotiations.[14. http://www.chinaembassy.ru/rus/fyrth/t189145.htm.] Welcoming this position China also called on other concerned parties to join efforts for the resumption of six-party talks which, China maintained, remained “a most realistic and effective approach to the resolution of the D.P.R.K. nuclear issue.” It was through the continuation of these talks, stated President Hu Jintao at his meeting with North Korean Premier Pak Bong Ju, that it would be possible to keep the Korean Peninsula free from nuclear weapons, to “resolve D.P.R.K.’s rational concerns and to maintain peace and stability on the Peninsula.”[15. Xinhua News Agency. (City?) March 24, 2005.]
It is worth noting that immediately after the February 10, 2005 nuclear declaration of North Korea, only China continued to maintain high-level direct contacts with the North Korean leadership (apart from a brief meeting between Kim Yong-Nam, head of the North Korea’s parliament, and Lee Hae-Chan, prime minister of South Korea, during the Asia-Africa summit in Jakarta in April 2005). But dealing with Pyongyang is not an easy business, even for China which has political, security and economic importance to North Korea. The latest example of that uneasy relationship was China’s deep disappointment when, during North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok-Ju’s April 2005 visit to Beijing, he failed to give a clear date for his country’s return to disarmament talks. As a result, the scheduled visit of China’s President Hu Jintao to Pyongyang was postponed indefinitely.[16. Joongang Ilbo. Seoul. April 12, 2005; http://www.chinaembassy.ru/rus/fyrth/t191969.htm.]
In spite of these difficulties China remained strongly in favor of the negotiated settlement of the North Korean nuclear crisis. In order to reach a breakthrough it welcomed every move that might help resumption of the six-party talks, including the reported readiness of the United States to hold direct contacts with North Korea in the framework of the talks. At the same time, China tried to prevent anything that would be detrimental to the talks’ resumption. China played down reports in the Western press accusing North Korea of preparing a nuclear test and stated that there was “no solid evidence” of such activities by Pyongyang.
All this may mean only that China does not want the North Korean crisis to escalate any further. China also clearly does not want the crisis to undermine its own already uneasy relations with Washington. One may safely assume that although China refuses to impose or to support sanctions against North Korea, it will not render Pyongyang technical, logistical or any other assistance that may be even remotely interpreted as a contribution to the North Korean military nuclear program. Without such assistance, North Korea will hardly be able to go on its own beyond limited actions in this area, given its disastrous economic situation.
In other words, it looks like China will continue to try to strike a delicate balance— refuse to let down its allies in North Korea and at the same time try not to jeopardize unnecessarily its relations with the United States.
Russia’s policy on the North Korean nuclear crisis
As a Eurasian country, Russia has strong national interests in Northeast Asia. They are formed not by mere geography, but by a rich variety of political, economic, security, demographic, cultural and other factors. Obviously, at different periods of Soviet/Russian history, some of these factors became more prominent than others, influencing the choice of national objectives and the means of their achievement.
Development of constructive and stable relations with both Korean states on a wide range of issues of common interest, including regional security, is a high priority in Russia’s policy in Northeast Asia. As the security situation in and around the Korean Peninsula remained unstable and tensions there started to escalate since the end of 2002, Russia has striven to make its own contribution to the resolution of the evolving crisis. It came forward with “a package proposal,” aimed at ensuring the non-nuclear status of the Korean Peninsula, strict observation of the NPT regime there and meeting North Korea’s legitimate economic (energy requirements in particular) and security concerns. At the same time, Russia expressed in no uncertain terms its negative reaction regarding the D.P.R.K.’s withdrawal from the NPT, stating that such action may only aggravate an already tense situation on the Korean peninsula and could greatly damage the existing legal instruments of maintaining regional and global security. The worst-case scenario from the Russian position would be a complete collapse of the nuclear non-proliferation regime not only on the Korean Peninsula, but also in the wider region of East Asia, provoking Japan and Taiwan to go nuclear. Russia, therefore, continued to urge Pyongyang to listen to the opinion of the international community, its neighbors and partners and to comply with the established norms and requirements of the non-proliferation regime.
Russia is in favor of the Korean unification, seeing it as a gradual process passing through a number of successive stages that are agreed upon in the course of a constructive political dialogue between the two Korean states. Russia holds a strong view that prospects of the Korean unification rest above all with the two Korean states. The inter-Korean dialogue seems to be the best possible method of bringing the long coveted goal of national reconciliation of the Korean people closer to realization. This does not mean to deny the role of outside powers in promoting this process. Normalization of Korean affairs, however, and the overall improvement in the security situation in and around the Korean Peninsula will hardly be facilitated by an arbitrary inclusion of the D.P.R.K. in an “evil axis” or calling it an “outpost of tyranny.” A sudden disappearance of North Korea as a sovereign state as a result of an Iraqi-type military operation, be it now or later, would be completely unacceptable to Russia since it would fundamentally change the existing balance of forces in Northeast Asia and seriously damage Russia’s national interests in the region.
Needless to say, Russia was shocked by the D.P.R.K.’s statement made on February 10, 2005 regarding its possession of nuclear weapons and expressed its deep regret over it. Moscow called on North Korea in no uncertain terms to return to the negotiation table and to avoid a nuclear arms race in the region. Nevertheless, in spite of a nasty turn in the situation in and around the Korean Peninsula created by the D.P.R.K.’s statement, Russia maintained its strong belief in a peaceful resolution of the nuclear crisis. It was, in Moscow opinion, critically dependent on the continuation of a political dialogue between the concerned parties in a six-nation format. Moscow remained, therefore, consistently in favor of a patient political process and disapproved of any use of force or threats to use force in an attempt to resolve the nuclear crisis. It did not hide its total disapproval of a possible military action against North Korea which would unleash hostilities with the possible use of nuclear weapons in the immediate proximity to Russia’s own territory.
In other words, Russia demonstrated its strong intention to follow along with other concerned nations and to contribute to the complete and sustainable resolution of the North Korean nuclear crisis by relying on political and diplomatic methods, as well as to continue to hold an active stand in defending internationally accepted legal norms and regulations. It also disapproved of sanctions, considering them to be counterproductive.
Sticking to this approach, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement on February 10, 2005 saying that “we treat with respect and understanding the D.P.R.K.’s concerns regarding its security. We believe, however, that resolution of this problem must be found through a negotiation process and not through an arms race, especially of nuclear weapons. In this context, we consider the six-party negotiations in Beijing as an optimum mechanism for resolving the nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula.” [17. Press release by the information department, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. February 10, 2005.]
Russia also entered into intensive consultations with its partners in the negotiation process and called on them to join efforts aimed at resumption of the talks and at finding compromises that would take into account legitimate interests and concerns of all parties. When North Korean leader Kim Jong Il indicated that North Korea may resume its participation in the six-party talks, Russia welcomed this statement and reconfirmed its belief in these talks as “the shortest way to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and resolution of other problems related to this issue.”[18. Press release by the information department, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. February 22, 2005.]
Apart from supporting a political process to resolve the Korean nuclear crisis, Russia indicated that it was prepared to take part in concerted efforts of the international community in helping North Korea with its energy problems. After political and military aspects of the crisis are resolved, Russia may consider its participation in a multilateral arrangement aimed at meeting the D.P.R.K. energy requirements either as a potential supplier to North Korea of natural gas from East Siberia or Sakhalin, or as a supplier of civilian nuclear technology under the established rules of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
At this point, the positions of the main conflicting parties to the North Korean nuclear crisis, the United States and the D.P.R.K., seem to be intransigent and almost impossible to reconcile. Moreover, one cannot completely exclude North Korea opting in favor of retaining its nuclear military potential. Latest reports regarding North Korea’s shut down of its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon supposedly for reprocessing spent fuel into weapon-grade plutonium[19. Kommersant. Moscow. April 19, 2005.] only strengthened such a possibility.
In the opinion of this author, however, the “door of opportunity” to resolve the crisis by political means is still open. The North Korean leadership, in spite of its aggressive rhetoric and its demand to turn the six-party talks into a wider disarmament forum, is basically interested not in the possession of nuclear weapons, but rather in trading them off for international (in particular U.S.) security guarantees and massive foreign economic assistance. It is North Korea’s rapidly escalating domestic economic crisis, and not possible U.S. military action, that presents the greatest threat to the North Korean regime. One may recall the case of Libya, which decided to surrender its nuclear military program in exchange for lifting international political and economic sanctions. If such a trade-off is achieved in the case of North Korea, the existing political regime in Pyongyang will continue to stay in place for some time. That may not suit those thinking of regime change in North Korea, yet it will be infinitely better than a military (possibly even nuclear) conflict in the densely populated region.
Although at this stage the highest priority for all major international and regional actors is an early resolution of the North Korean nuclear crisis, it does not mean that the situation on the Korean Peninsula may be completely normalized, even after the current nuclear crisis is reduced to an acceptable level. The reason for that lies in the fact that the security situation on the Korean Peninsula has dynamics embedded in the long and painful history of a Korean civil war and great power rivalries. The major international actors, the United States and China in particular, continue to hold highly divergent views on the future of the Korean Peninsula and of the Korean unification. This makes the current Korean nuclear crisis only a transitory event, although an important one, in the long-term strategic development of the region. As the six-party talks resume in July 2005, this broader frame of reference must be kept in mind.