LA Times: U.S. still taking cautious approach to North Korea aid
John M. Glionna
In mid-December, U.S. negotiators came the closest they’d come in two years to resuming humanitarian food aid for millions of undernourished North Koreans.
They pressed North Korean officials in Beijing one day for assurances that any assistance would not be siphoned off by the North’s military. In return, experts say, Washington hoped to draw the government in Pyongyang back to negotiations over an uranium enrichment program North Korea revealed to outsiders in 2010.
The next day, Dec. 17, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died of a heart attack, casting developments into limbo as his youngest son, Kim Jong Un, 28, assumed control of the repressive regime.
More than a month later, the U.S. remains cautious about the potential changes in Pyongyang’s relationship with the international community, experts say.
The Obama administration wants to secure a food deal that won’t backfire, said Daniel Pinkston, Northeast Asia deputy project director for the International Crisis Group, a nonprofit organization.
“Obama can’t take the risk of a North Korean nuclear test a month before the election,” Pinkston said.
A independent, non-government report (being released today) on North Korea concludes the transfer of power to Kim Jong Un is already complete. And, the report by the International Crisis Group predicts prospects for reform in the impoverished country are dim and the young leader could well be around for decades, with a growing nuclear arsenal. Details from VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Seoul.