What's the plan?

It looks like Kim Jong-il is back on the front foot in DPRK, playing a firm shot to some increasingly fast bowling. The latest moves in Pyongyang seem to be a deliberate attempt to keep the issue front and centre in the international relations game, presumably to maximise the concessions to the DPRK if and when an agreement is reached. CNN for the details:

North Korea claims nuclear weapons
Pyongyang pulls out of six-nation talks
Thursday, February 10, 2005 Posted: 10:01 AM EST (1501 GMT)

(CNN) -- Citing what it calls U.S. threats to topple its political system, North Korea says it is dropping out of six-party nuclear talks and will "bolster its nuclear weapons arsenal," North Korea's official news agency KCNA reported.

Thursday's report was the first public claim by North Korea to actually possess nuclear weapons.


The other possibility is that the latest move reflects the internal conflict taking place within DPRK. KJ-I may be trying to demonstrate that he is still firmly in control and is not afraid to take decisive action. Given the small but significant relevants about pockets of vocalised dissent, a show of strength does make sense.

Perhaps, ultimately, it's a bit of both. Playing the external strategic game at the same time as keeping the internal status quo is a skill that Kim and his father were and are brilliantly adept at.

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