Six-Party Talks, 2012 and Economic Development

Negotiations over the North Korea's nuclear program, whether through the six-party talks or through bilateral meetings, are moving ahead. The signs seem to point to some urgency on North Korea's part, with even the National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong Il weighing in on the issue.


In August, Andray and myself argued that economic development appears to be increasingly important to the North Korean state - something that seems unusual when placed in the context of its past propaganda efforts and the government's track record on the economy. China's ambassador to North Korea, Liu Hongcai, agrees with us. As 2012 looms, North Korea's promises of becoming a "strong and prosperous" country by next year have obvious failings. During visits to Pyongyang to discuss economic issues, older officials might claim successes in the areas of ideology, culture and security, but acknowledge openly the lack of economic development. Perhaps now that China is bringing in the Chairman of the China Development Bank, maybe we can look towards less bumpy roads in North Korea.

I wonder whether a renewed priority on economic development is a factor in North Korea's urgency to reconvene talks? Will this priority drive flexibility and commitment, and would it have an impact on the contents of a deal?