The best that can be hoped for is that this new round of diplomacy will go the way of the last one - with Pyongyang's delegation behaving badly and refusing to disarm. That will, of course, do nothing to prevent the North's nuclear ambitions. But neither will the other possible outcome: a new deal with Pyongyang pursuant to which the latter will falsely promise to curb that threat.
This was the lesson of Bill Clinton's 1994 "Agreed Framework" with North Korea. Many - including some in high office, who certainly should have known better - were induced to believe that, thanks to that accord's swap of Western funds, fuel, technology and food for North Korea's disarmament pledges, a grievous security threat had been eliminated.
We now know that, shortly after (if not actually before) the Framework was signed, North Korea made an utter mockery of that accord by covertly launching a new, uranium enrichment-based effort to continue its nuclear arms program. Evidently benefitting from the same "Nukes 'r Us" pipeline that supplied Chinese weapons designs and Pakistani centrifuges to countries like Iran and Libya, Pyongyang used the last decade to dangerous effect: The North can now threaten neighboring nations and the United States with its own, small nuclear arsenal - and with the possibility that it would make such weapons available to other rogue states, or perhaps to terrorists, with the requisite cash.
The talks now in the offing risk having the Bush Administration compounding one other mistake made by its predecessor. By doing yet another deal with North Korea's dictator, the United States cannot help but confer legitimacy on what is, arguably, the world's most odious regime.
A recently aired BBC documentary validated this dubious distinction. It featured eye-witness accounts of the use of poison gas to liquidate political prisoners and their families in the North's vast gulag - a reminder of a Nazi-inflicted low-point in human history that the civilized world has promised would never be allowed to reoccur.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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