North Korea, after 15 years of playing games in negotiations, has actually shut down their largest Nuclear Reactor.

The significance of this will be largely ignored, I suspect, for several reasons.

First of all, it was a victory for the Bush administration, and the press is loath to admit Bush can do anything right. Indeed, an article in the NYTimes admits that North Korea shutting down their nuclear reactor is a diplomatic triumph for Bush…but they spend two paragraphs reminding readers of his “failures” which is out of context to the subject discussed. Editorializing in news stories? well, duh.

The second reason is that this story is traveling at a snail’s pace. I’ve been following the news of the shut down for over a week, and they finally confirmed it is being done.
In a 24 hour news cycle, we need fast action, not slow patient negotiations.
The third reason is that it involves economic pressure. This “timeline” for example doesn’t even mention it.

Essentially the US Treasury told certain Asian banks: Stop laundering the dirty money, and stop passing the counterfeit bills manufactured in North Korea, or we won’t do business with you.

Asians put money over ideology, and voila, Kim has a big problem.
But the really important part of the “money Trail” in this case was a Macao bank account.

$25 million dollars in bank accounts were frozen, and North Korea went crazy. Now, to you or me that’s a lot of money. But in the real world, that much money won’t buy a decent Condo building in Manhattan. So why the fuss?

Because it was the personal stash of the North Korean bigshots,

And because Kim’s oldest son lives it up in Macao
This southern Chinese city is also the home of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Ils oldest son, Kim Jong Nam. This 35 year old, whose mother was a movie actress girlfriend of Kim Jong Il, has been in Macao for the past three years, living it up in luxury hotels, and often seen gambling in casinos.

Kim’s oldest son is not interested in becoming a dictator, but he is smart, and if he has to come home, he might cause trouble with the younger half brother who is heir apparant.

So what the BBC calls “a row” about the frozen bank accounts (implying that it was a mistake). But it wasn’t a mistake. It was an effective way to bring it home to the North Korean government high ups that if they continued to act up, they and their kids might not be able to get their drugs and bimbos and might not be able to have fun in Macao’s casinos.

Yes, the financial pressures were a lot more than that, and included stopping money and trade from Japan and South Korea, and the fact that the government’s propaganda is being undermined by consumer goods and news that trickle in from a much more prosperous China across the border.
Yes, the pot was sweetened by the arrival of much needed oil from South Korea. But like other dictators who cared not if their people starved, this type of pressure only goes so far. The tipping point was when the financial pressure hit their own pockets, or maybe in the case of Kim’s son, a point of anatomy a few inches below the pockets.
But like other successes in the “war on bad guys” the financial war successes will only be mentioned on the financial pages, not in the headlines.

But that’s why you read Blogs, isn’t it?

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket

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