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2003-04-24

University of Chicago Professor Bruce Cumings On U.S. and North Korea Relations

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Envoys from the US and North Korea have begun a second day of face to face talks in Beijing about North Korea’s nuclear program.

Negotiators on both sides have refused to comment on the progress of the talks. But North Korea’s official news agency said the US invasion of Iraq shows that other countries need a strong physical deterrent force to protect themselves.

A memo from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld urging removal of the North Korean government and leaked earlier this week has exacerbated tensions.

The U.S delegation is being led by the Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly.

The last time Kelly met with a North Korean delegation, he accused them of pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons program, sparking the crisis in October. President Bush then suspended all aid shipments.

North Korea restarted its nuclear program, expelled UN inspectors and withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Last week, North Korea announced that it is already reprocessing spent fuel rods- a necessary step to produce weapons grade plutonium.

All of this comes as the Pentagon has acknowledged for the first time that the Bush administration intends to produce — not just research — a thermonuclear bunker-busting bomb.

Federal officials signed documents in Washington this week to launch a preliminary design contest between Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

The San Jose Mercury News reports the so-called "Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator" will be a full-power hydrogen bomb that would throw up enormous clouds of radioactive dust while wreaking large-scale damage and death if used in an urban area. The bomb will be thousands of times more powerful than the conventional bunker busters dropped on Baghdad.

  • Bruce Cumings, history professor at the University of Chicago. He has written several books including ??Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History.

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