Bush begins talks with North Korea

Dealing with terroristic countries and keeping the well-being of American citizens in mind is something not many people have to deal with. However, for Dr. Carol Medlicott it was something she had to deal with every day.

Medlicott, a geography professor at Northern Kentucky University, worked as a U.S. Intelligence Analyst from 1987 to 2000. One area she studied was North Korea because of its status as a security concern to the government.

She recently wrote a commentary for pleasure about North Korea’s nuclear weapons test after it was held Oct. 9 in the remote unpopulated northeastern province.

Medlicott said that with all the focus of foreign policy on Iraq and Afghanistan, the nuclear test looks like it came out of nowhere. However, North Korea has had its eye on the “nuclear prize” for almost three decades now.

“North Korea sees having nuclear weapons as a sign of power,” Medlicott said. “By them getting weapons, they are showing they can bring other imperialistic rulers to their knees.”

In the past, North Korea has used nuclear weapons as a sign of imperial power over Japan, since it ruled over North Korea for almost half a century. After Korea was divided into two sections, north and south Korea, North Korea placed itself in power of Northeast Asia.

Medlicott feels the Bush administration is handling North Korea well.

“Bush does not have a vital interest in Northeast Asia, since there is no oil over there,” Medlicott said. “We simply could not go to war with them. The stakes are too high.”

“We don’t think today of terrorism and North Korean in the same breath,” Medlicott said. “Even though they have been long considered a state sponsor of terrorism.”

More recently, Oct. 31 President Bush welcomed an agreement to bring North Korea back to six-party arms talks and said the United States will insist the communist regime abandon its nuclear weapons program in a verifiable fashion.

To lure the North back, Washington agreed to discuss the financial sanctions the United States imposed on North Korea a year ago for its alleged complicity in counterfeiting and money laundering to sell weapons of mass destruction. Those sanctions attempted to sever Pyongyang from the international financial system.

North Korea has boycotted the six-party talks since the sanctions were imposed.

Bush credited China, which has more leverage than any other country with North Korea, with bringing the North back to negotiations.

“I am pleased and I want to thank the Chinese,” the president told reporters in the Oval Office, after meeting with Andrew Natsios, his special envoy on Sudan.

“It’s clear the North Koreans got the message from the Chinese and everybody else,” said State Department spokesman Tom Casey.

The surprise announcement came three weeks after the communist regime in Pyongyang conducted its first-known test detonation of a nuclear bomb. The agreement was struck after three-way discussions hosted by the Chinese in Beijing between the senior envoys from the United States, China and North Korea.

The U.S. negotiator, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, said the talks, which also include Japan, South Korea and Russia, could resume as early as November or December.

Bush said the agreement does not halt the United States’ effort to enforce a U.N. Security Council resolution passed in response to the North’s atomic test.

That resolution calls for a ban on the sale of major arms to Pyongyang and inspection of cargo entering and leaving the country. It also calls for the freezing of assets of businesses supplying North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic weapons programs, as well as restrictions on sales of luxury goods and travel bans on North Korean officials.

“We’ll be sending teams to the region to work with our partners to make sure that the current United Nations Security Council resolution is enforced, but also to make sure the talks are effective, that we achieve the results we want _ which is a North Korea that abandons her nuclear weapons programs and her nuclear weapons in a verifiable fashion in return for a better way forward for her people,” the president said. “I’m very pleased with the progress being made in the Far East. Still got a lot of work to do.”

* Editor’s note: Associated Press writer Jennifer Loven contributed to this story.