Time after time, North Korea has relayed the same message: if the US will hold direct talks with Pyongyang, North Korea is “ready to conclude an agreement to end its nuclear programs, put them all under IAEA inspection and conclude a permanent peace treaty,” writes Jimmy Carter in the Washington Post. It’s time to consider taking them up on their request.
In 1994, direct talks between the countries prompted North Korea to halt fuel-cell reprocessing and allow nuclear inspections. But when President Bush later refused talks outside of major conditions, Pyongyang kicked out inspectors and resumed the fuel-cell operations. In 2005, multi-national talks led to further progress. “North Korea insists on direct talks with the United States,” Carter writes, and “ultimately, the choice may be between diplomatic niceties and avoiding a catastrophic confrontation.”