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Greetings from Sunny Pyongyang

A press release from the government of North Korea earlier this week:

Japan urged to behave itself

Pyongyang, January 28 (KCNA) -- Japan has neither a justification nor a qualification to interfere in such an important matter as the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, says Minju Joson today in a signed commentary. The Japanese authorities groundlessly pulled up the DPRK over its withdrawal from the NPT, the commentary notes, and continues:

It was the U.S. and the IAEA, its cat's paw, which compelled the DPRK to withdraw from the treaty.

The Japanese authorities, however, are faulting the DPRK, a victim.

The same is true for the issues related to the DPRK-Japan Pyongyang Declaration. Japan is totally to blame for the non-compliance with the declaration.

Japan linked the already settled issue and unimportant issues which carry no great significance in improving the bilateral relations to the issue of compensating for its past crimes, thus deliberately hamstringing the process of establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries.

It is persistent in its moves to isolate the DPRK, taking advantage of the U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK.

The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is not an issue which admits of Japan's meddling.

The issue can be settled satisfactorily only if the U.S. totally drops its hostile policy toward the DPRK and respects its sovereignty and vital rights. The DPRK and the U.S. are, therefore, the direct parties concerned to the settlement of the nuclear issue.

It is foolhardy of Japan not to understand this simple reason and go reckless.

Japan will have to pay a very high price if it continues running wild, ignorant of the true nature of the nuclear issue.

So, to sum up:

  • Japan has neither "justification nor a qualification" to insert itself in the issue of its paranoid, totalitarian neighbor -- the neighbor that has launched a ballistic missile over it -- acquiring nuclear weapons.
  • The US and the IAEA "compelled" North Korea, a "victim" in this situation, to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
  • North Korea's past abductions of Japanese citizens are "already settled... and unimportant issues which carry no great significance." Meanwhile, Japan must compensate North Korea for its "past crimes."
  • Japan will "pay a very high price" if it continues to act in disagreement with North Korea on the issue of North Korea's withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Note that this comes on the heels of an obvious effort by the US to deescalate the war of words.

Assuming rational, self-interested decision-making on the part of the North Koreans -- the use of the nuclear issue to make diplomatic, economic, and security gains -- it would seem that they have decided to push this issue much closer to the brink than might have been anticipated in an effort to maximize their return. In other words, if they have the US backing down, offering previously denied concessions, why shouldn't they keep pushing until they're absolutely convinced no more concessions will be offered and an attack could be imminent?

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