Victor Cha, "Obama won't recognize North Korea as nuclear state"

Park Jin Keol  |  2009-02-09 14:26
[imText1]Washington D.C. -- Former National Security Council (NSC) East Asia chief Victor Cha anticipates that no U.S. administration will recognize North Korea as a nuclear state under the current set of circumstances.

Professor Cha, now of Georgetown University, who served as NSC during the Bush Administration and as a negotiator at the Six Party Talks, suggested on Thursday that There will never be (recognition of North Korea as nuclear state), either by Bush or by Obama.

The speech was made at a lecture organized by the Sejong Society at Johns Hopkins University SAIS. In the lecture, Professor Cha also talked about his new book Beyond the Final Score: The Politics of Sports in Asia, and some of the episodes related to North Korea that arose while he was negotiating with his counterparts.

While visiting North Korea for negotiations on the repatriation of the bodies of missing U.S. GIs during the Korean War, Cha had an opportunity to have a two-and-a-half hour conversation with Lee Gun, Director of American Affairs at the DPRK Foreign Ministry. Cha recalled that the conversation ended on the theme of sports. Also, when Cha was at one of North Koreas guest houses, he was able to watch only two channels, one of which was showing a session of the Supreme Peoples Assembly and the other the news of the North Korean womens soccer teams win over Taiwan.

Sports can be an important and politically safe channel for contacts between hostile regimes, as shown by the famous Ping-Pong Diplomacy between the U.S. under President Nixon and Maoist China in the early 1970s.

As the New York Philharmonics performance in Pyongyang also showed, sports or cultural exchanges can facilitate ongoing negotiations with North Korea, too.

Indeed, Cha suggested that it could be possible to invite the North Korean womens soccer team to America if the Six Party Talks improve. North Korea has one of the best womens soccer teams in the world, as does the U.S. It is one sport where genuine competition would be possible.

In any case, Cha added, given that the Six Party Talks are frozen in the second phase and the new administration just took the reins, cultural or sports events could keep contacts between US and North Korea open and fill the vacuum (left by the absence of negotiations).
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