Thursday, March 22, 2007

North Korea Nuclear Talks Break Down

According to today’s Kansas City Sun, North Korea nuclear talks break down. The problem appears to be that no one wants North Korea’s money, and a provision in the 2001 Patriot Act has created this problem.

According to the article, “Three days after the Bush administration announced a breakthrough plan for freeing $25 million in North Korean funds, talks over the country's nuclear program collapsed Thursday when several banks balked at accepting the frozen assets.... Without the cash in hand, North Korean envoy Kim Kye-gwan (photo) bolted multilateral nuclear talks and returned to Pyongyang, expressing anger at the delay."

It appears that, “A little-noticed provision of the 2001 Patriot Act has given foreign banks reason to be wary of U.S. regulators.” Banks in South Korea, China and Russia have refused to accept the money and disburse it on behalf of North Korea because they fear entanglement with these regulators.

The solution, according to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov, is, "The U.S. administration should submit . . . written warrants that transactions with North Korean assets will not have consequences for anyone."

Although several envoys “voiced certainty that the delay would be temporary,” the problem, as reported in the Sun is that “The breakdown threw the talks into recess at a crucial moment, before delegates from the six nations could hash out a mid-April deadline for North Korea to accept international monitors and seal off five key nuclear facilities, including the Yongbyon reactor.”

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