Resolving differences and removing tension and conflict is always good. It must be genuine of course, and cannot be sought for or declared carelessly or naively, for each breach of trust in the pursuit of harmony makes the next try fraught with all the more struggles. At times the seeming breach of agreement can come from misunderstanding, or different understanding of viewing the same terms of agreement. A seeming "violation" of an agreement, is not always from deceptive and underhanded intentions.
This morning's announcement from the spokespeople for the 6 party talks, that a deal was reached for North Korean denuclearization is wonderful news, potentially lifting a horrible spectre of destabilization from a key global region, (and by implication the whole world). Time Magazine does raise some important questions in its argument that the tentative agreement, is less a comprehensive solution than it is a starting point, such as But what is the trigger, in terms of aid delivered to the North, for the regime to actually begin tearing down the reactor? and other very important elements left vague, like, what of the six to 10 nuclear bombs that the North already has in its arsenal, according to U.S. intelligence analysts? Does anyone believe Kim Jong Il will give those up? Or does he believe they are the ultimate guarantor to the survival of his regime?
These are important questions, but should not serve to diminish the importance of the agreement as far it has come, nor the achievements of the negotiators.
What are the implications of this "first harvest" for the current challenges presented by Iran's frightening nuclearization? (The Financial Times writes Iran will be able to develop enough weapons-grade material for a nuclear bomb and there is little that can be done to prevent it, an internal European Union document has concluded.)
The applicability of the hard-won Korea agreement to Iran is not readily seen, especially when looking at the external elements in the compromise. Until now international affairs continue to be engaged politically, a system of trades and compromises grounded in self-interest. This is a mossback approach to relations that soon will pass from the coming world. If one remains bound in perspective to narrowly political approaches to the resolution of differences, then there is very little to draw from the Korea progress to apply to Iran. North Korea essentially was purchased (possibly temporarily) with approximately 1 billion dollars worth of oil. It is obvious that this cannot apply to the Iranian situation.
It is possible however that a close study of the "heart," mentality, attitudes, structures, and dynamics of the extremely high-level conversations in the 6 party talks, might reveal something that CAN be applied to the Iran question. For example, the US (even directly from Mr. Bush himself) acknowledged actual dependence on China to help make success happen. If there are people from within the 6 party talks who can account for the internal pathways that led to this first small harvest, (and not just the external political conditions of the "deal") there may well be valuable lessons to be learned from Western powers who are concerned over how to dampen Iran's frightening nuclear ambitions and activity.
Frank Kaufmann is the director of the Inter Religious Federation for World Peace. These opinions are his own
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