Re “Kim Jong-il’s Last Card” (Op-Ed, Oct. 8):
Jason T. Shaplen and James Laney offer a rarity: a new idea on North Korea. China taking physical possession of Pyongyang’s fissile materials on the latter’s territory has consequences beyond their own assessment. One downside: if things ever get nasty, Beijing could give it all back. That’s unlikely, but the capacity would increase Chinese leverage vis-à-vis the United States in the region.
On the upside, Beijing’s control over fuel and food spigots would impede Pyongyang from throwing China out as it did the International Atomic Energy Agency, locking in Pyongyang’s commitments and so facilitating an ultimate arrangement to remove the fissile materials from the country.
China’s strengthened de facto security guarantee to North Korea plus United States reliance on China’s control of the fissile materials would increase both Beijing’s and Washington’s incentives to keep Korea out of play between them. Net result: a nearly denuclearized Korean Peninsula and improved regional cooperation. Not bad!
Wade L. Huntley
Vancouver, British Columbia
Oct. 8, 2007