What motivation do the North Koreans have to declare this now? They must not be happy with the lack of concessions they are receiving from the Bush administration. Could they be trying to rain on Condi's parade with her recently completed successful trip? Some quick thoughts:
- This should amplify President Bush's opposition to Iran's nuclear program and require the Europeans to toughen their stance.
- This will be Condi's first major diplomatic challenge as she must now pivot from Europe and the Middle East to Asia to buttress US ally resolve and security in the region
- China, long desiring respect on the international stage, must speak firmly and put extreme pressure on Kim Jong il's hermit regime.
- Rogue nations cannot be allowed into the nuclear club, especially with their history of selling any technology for hard cash to prop up their despotic regimes.
The timing raises more questions than it answers, but it clearly will put China in a difficult position. Now more than ever is a time for coordinated diplomacy among the 5 stable parties of the 6 (US, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia with North Korea). China aspires to a more prominent global role. As North Korea's principal partner and fellow communist regime, China must now take a stand and engage North Korea.
UPDATE: I think it is likely that we will see many blame pieces for why we find ourselves in this situation. While a good topic for historians, it is vital that both parties speak with one voice and that this issue does not become politicized in DC.
UPDATE 2: PowerPundit worries about the plan to cut back on missile defense spending with Iran and North Korea as emerging nuclear threats. (2.10.05)