U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill declined to say whether he thought the stalled multilateral talks would resume before the end of June, when a full year will have passed since the last round of inconclusive discussions.
``I don't want to speculate on when the talks would get going, nor do I want to give an artificial deadline, except to say that it's very important that we get the process going that can address this issue,'' Hill said after meeting Japanese officials.
``We cannot have a situation where a country like North Korea is developing nuclear weapons,'' he said. ``We believe the six-party process is the best way to solve this.''
Um, someone really should tell the Bush Administration that North Korea already has nuclear weapons. CIA says it could be as many as a dozen warheads. And just today, the NY Times reports that the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency says North Korea has mastered the ability to put its nukes on missiles. The game has changed but our play has not; the US sounds like an old broken record, still calling out for six-party talks after that approach has already manifestly failed.
So why is the Bush Administration in denial? And why won't we talk to the North Koreans directly? I suspect it's because--since North Korea actually does have WMD--use of force is not an option... and Condoleeza Rice is now learning the hard way what Powell did: it's really hard to be a successful diplomat when you are fundamentally forbidden to yield or compromise on anything.