, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 39-58

Is institutionalization of the six-party talks possible?

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Abstract

During 2003 and 2004, after having successfully hosted two six-party talks and a round of working-group level meetings on the North Korean nuclear crisis, China pushed to institutionalize the talks. Such an initiative coming from China was a shock to the world, since it has long maintained a passive, negative and defensive posture against multilateral cooperative security arrangements. This article declares that China's idea to utilize the six-party talks as a steppingstone toward a multilateral cooperative security arrangement is premature. It argues that the first priority is to address the failure of the 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea—what was, then, believed to be the solution for the North Korean nuclear crisis. This article dissects the failure and identifies one critical factor for the viability of any future peaceful resolution—the economic sanctions that the US has placed against North Korea for the past half-century. The authors argues that if the issue of sanctions is not addressed, the current six-party talks will not be successful.