Winston to North Korea

August 1st, 2007 at 1:05 pm by David Farrar

Yes Winston is off to North Korea to see how NZ can assist development in North Korea.

I do hope he remembers to chat to them about human rights, when he is there, considering they are arguably the most repressive regime on the planet.

Maybe we could do a swap of Ministers as a gesture of good-will.  North Korea could lend us a Minister to explain how the Electoral Finance Bill is ofr our own good, and Winston could stay in North Korea and explain how all their problems are caused by high immigration (for those who don’t know North Korea has nil voluntary immigration).

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36 Responses to “Winston to North Korea”

  1. Bob Howard () says:

    They will shake his hand, smile at him then make sure he doesn’t see too much. With Phil Goff shaking Arafat’s hand now Winston going to see what we can do for the North Koreans what does the rest of the western world think of us. Why doesn’t he go to the countries of South America or Eastern Europe. At least they are not so controversial. I am afraid any help given to North Korea only makes their oppressive rule more solid.

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  2. Porcupine () says:

    Perhaps he could do a defense cooperation like Phil did with Vietnam. We could all sleep peacefully if we were under North Korea’s nuclear umbrella.

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  3. slightlyrighty () says:

    So they shut their nuclear program down, and we send Winston Peters.

    There’s gratitude for you.

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  4. Grant () says:

    LOL at “nil VOLUNTARY immigration”.

    Very subtle DPF.

    Still don’t see why he, or any other NZ politician, needs to go there though.
    G

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  5. Michael S () says:

    Is it a one way ticket?

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  6. Charlie Tan () says:

    “With Phil Goff shaking Arafat’s hand now Winston going to see what we can do for the North Koreans what does the rest of the western world think of us.”

    Actually Europe and Russia tend to favour a more conciliatory stance on North Korea and, I dare say, many Europeans supported Arafat and still support the plight of the Palestinians in general. And lately the U.S. has been forced to see that in any given confrontation, NK is holding some pretty big cards. A couple of years back the Bush administration undertook a study that concluded that any credible preemptive action vis-a-vis the NK regime would wipe out Seoul (and perhaps parts of Japan) as well. So Kim and his buddies know there is not much threat behind Bush’s swagger and now the Americans are taking a more diplomatic tone too. China is of course a formal ally and SK always prefers either the status quo or improved relations with the North. The only nation that is really crying out for a hard-line approach these days is Japan – and that is really only because the current PM Shinzo Abe cut his teeth on this issue as Minister of Foreign Affairs. His predecessor actually tried to build a few bridges between Pyongyang and Tokyo. In any case, Abe’s grip on power has loosened in the wake of last week’s election and some punters are picking he won’t be round for long, which means that NK issues might be pushed on to the back burner in Tokyo.

    It seems NZ is not out of line with international opinion after all.

    DPF is right in that the NK regime certainly is reprehensible, and I’m sure Winston will bring up human rights, but isolating NK simply has not done anything to change its poor record or discourage it from developing nuclear weapons, on the contrary, there is good reason to suspect that isolation actually provoked the latter.

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  7. Neil Morrison () says:

    “…there is good reason to suspect that isolation actually provoked the latter.”

    But it’s North Korea that chose isolation, it’s countries like the US that have tried to get Korea to open up. The NK dictatorship would loose their wealth, power and privildge if it insituted democratic change – don’t go blaming this on the US. Few people argued that isolating the White South African regime shoared up apartheid.

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  8. Neil Morrison () says:

    “there is good reason to suspect that isolation actually provoked the latter.”

    But it’s North Korea that chose isolation, it’s countries like the US that have tried to get Korea to open up. The NK dictatorship would loose their wealth, power and privildge if it insituted democratic change – don’t go blaming this on the US. Few people argued that isoalting the White South African regime shoared up apartheid.

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  9. Inventory2 () says:

    DPF said “I do hope he remembers to chat to them about human rights, when he is there, considering they are arguably the most repressive regime on the planet.”

    Ah David, maybe Helen is sending him there for a crash course in repression, given that he is supporting Labour’s election spending legislation. She wants him to see how other non-democracies work, then report back to her!!

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  10. DavidW () says:

    Charlie – wrong. Japan wants Korean unification like a hole in the head. The peninsula firing on all four would pose a credible economic threat to Japan and it’s power. Likewise China doesn’t want a western capitalist power on its border and South Korea would be bankrupted by the costs of unification.

    Winston will be taken to the big statue of the Great Leader (poppa Kim) and will lay flowers while the anonymous voice on the loudspeaker system will announce to thin air about representatives of this glorious and supportive foreign power that is New Zild paying homage to him and all he represented. He will be taken to the recently constructed mini village that is the Great Leader’s birthplace and to the Great Halls of the Technology Museum. He will probably feel quite important as it will appear that they will have cleared the streets of traffic to make way for his motorcade but in reality there is no traffic to clear. Privately he will eat some Kimchee with French wine, Johnny Walker and Kirin Beer available and will probably get stung with the bill at the end (US dollars required no credit cards accepted). There will be photo opportunities galore but he will see nothing of any significance and will go away with not much more than a request for hard currency in his pocket.
    Call me cynical if you like but I would be willing to bet that the reactor shutdown was because they couldn’t keep it going any longer and used the pile of crumbling concrete as a chip to extract some more fuel oil from the South and US.

    The funny bit is that he will probably have to fly in asteam driven ex Aeroflot Illushyn(spp) from Beijing where the authorities won’t let the plane within 500 metres of the terminal building and the crew are not allowed to leave the plane. If that flight doesn’t give him a potent reminder of the downside of International Travel nothing will.

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  11. CraigM () says:

    Overheard at Parliaments travel service:

    Oh shit. No. I said “send him north, to Korea….”

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  12. Charlie Tan () says:

    “But it’s North Korea that chose isolation,”

    No argument there

    “it’s countries like the US that have tried to get Korea to open up.”

    Well if so they are doing it in a fairly funny way. In 1994 the U.S. and NK negotiated the agreed framework which would have seen an exchange of oil and light-water reactor for a resolution by Korea to freeze its indigenous nuclear programme. Its handy to note here that the Clinton Administration was planning to go to war over North Korea’s right under the NPT to develop its civilian nuclear programme (until Jimmy Carter stepped in and got both sides to compromise). Then in 1996 a new republican congress basically nixed American commitments under KEDO, the body that would administer the deal. Several attempts were made to revive the deal, but accusations on both sides abounded, not least, reports on the U.S. side that NK was stockpiling uranium (NK’s frozen Yongbyong reactor was powered by plutonium, so where this uranium came from was quite a mystery). Tempers flared, NK tested a few missiles (legally), and then after being called a member of an axis of evil that included a nation that had been invaded by the U.S. precisely because it did not have a deterrent, set out to make sure the same thing didn’t happen to it. It withdrew from the NPT (legally) and tested a (plutonium-based) nuclear weapon. Since the United States has taken a more conciliatory tone, it has again decommissioned Yongbyong for the time being.

    As I’ve said, the regime in Pyongyang is wicked, and should step down. But it isn’t going to just because the U.S. says it should. You’re right, it is not the U.S.’s “fault” that the NK regime is the way it is, but subsequent U.S. administrations have fucked up this issue so badly by not being able to step into the shoes of the Kim regime.

    “Few people argued that isoalting the White South African regime shoared up apartheid.”

    Actually the U.S. did argue this for quite some time, but it doesn’t really matter because it is irrelevant. North Korea is not South Africa. SA had neither the inclination (nor for the most part the capability) to nuke its neighbours.

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  13. Charlie Tan () says:

    “Charlie – wrong. Japan wants Korean unification like a hole in the head. The peninsula firing on all four would pose a credible economic threat to Japan and it’s power. Likewise China doesn’t want a western capitalist power on its border and South Korea would be bankrupted by the costs of unification.”

    Did I say anything about (re)unification? I merely mentioned that all nations except Japan involved in the 6 party talks (plus most of Europe) are taking a more conciliatory line vis-a-vis the North and thus NZ is not out of step with the rest of the world on this. A better, more humane, more open – and most imprtantly for us – less well armed North Korea does not necessarily entail a greater Chosun. But if you are going to bring up reunification, please at least be consistent. How can Japan be afraid of a reunified Korea “firing on all fours” while South Korea – the richer of the two – is bankrupted by the costs?

    I’m sure Winston will see some of the sights and he might even be taken to the school that studies New Zealand studies, and yes, because he is the FM he will be very polite and eat the food they give him etc, but I’m afraid you do underestimate both the man (and that is quite a feat) and his role when you imply that this will only be a sight-seeing trip.

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  14. Michael () says:

    Actually .. thats not strictly true .. i know 2 people who are emigrating to North Korea at thee end of the year (kiwis born here – european decent) – so Nill is not quite right . They are nuts if you ask me but still 2 people at least :)

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  15. mara () says:

    So our Winnie is offering NK an “assistance program” on condition that they “continue to take tangible steps” towards eternal peace,wealth for the peasants,enlightened democracy and endless sunshine for all.Oh yes,and to stop all this naughtyness about wanting to atomise the world.
    Apart from the cost of this imbecilic trip,at least the Kiwi taxpayer should be spared further expense.

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  16. Charlie Tan () says:

    We are a KEDO partner mara.

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  17. Nicholas O'Kane () says:

    “I do hope he remembers to chat to them about human rights, when he is there, considering they are arguably the most repressive regime on the planet.”

    No David, North Korea is the most represive regime on the planet, and if Winston talks about human rights, they won’t understand what he is talking about.

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  18. Neil Morrison () says:

    Charlie Tan, Clinton didn’t take exception to NK’s peaceful nuclear ambitions, which they are indeed entitled to under the NNPT, but rather to their weapons programme. That is why the US offered light water reactors for power generation as part of the deal to stop their nuclear weapons programme.

    That deal broke down but by then NK had secretly commenced acquiring uranium enrichment technology from Pakistan (that’s what the US had a problem with, not stockpiling uranium). And in a situation where a deal between a democracy and a dictatorship brakes down I give the benefit of the doubt to the democracy.

    (Interestingly it’s know thought that Carter was part of Clinton’s the plan)

    The US may have made a few errors in dealing with NK but when it comes down to it the NK leadership is a devious bunch of psychopaths who have successfully held to ransom the people of both North and South Korea which would pose a negotiating challenge to anyone.

    I don’t object to Peters’ trip, I think it can’t do any harm but is unlikely to do any good. That it’s unlikely to have any positive effect on the NK leadership is solely the fault of them not Peters.

    I think the comparison with SA is valid; it was after all a newly democratised SA that renounced their nuclear weapons ambitions. And indeed Reagan didn’t favour isolating the white South African regime. He was wrong and much the same argument can be made with NK. (But the US does actually favour negotiations – it pushed for the multi-lateral talks now going on, it’s just that pressure on the NK leadership also has to have some bite).

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  19. David Farrar (1,853 comments) says:

    What I find interesting is that NK has said even if reunified they want US troops to stay in Korea, because they see them as a balance to Japan. Japan, they have real issues with.

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  20. Murray () says:

    I hope he asks for our three million dollars back. The money that we gave them to use to develop non-nuke methods of power that they used FOR their nuke program.

    Its called a contract, they violated it, money back please.

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  21. wayne mapp () says:

    I wonder if there is not more to this than a unilateral trip by Winston. New Zealand has had a suprisingly close involvement in this whole issue in partnership with traditional friends and allies. I suspect he is preforming something of the role of honestbroker, well aware of the messages that other nations need to get through to North Korea. So lets be a little more thoughtful on this – it is unlikely to be a political stunt.

    Wayne

    [DPF: Oh I agree it is potentially quite useful. I just can never resist teasing Winston :-)]

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  22. Charlie Tan () says:

    “That deal broke down but by then NK had secretly commenced acquiring uranium enrichment technology from Pakistan (that’s what the US had a problem with, not stockpiling uranium). And in a situation where a deal between a democracy and a dictatorship brakes down I give the benefit of the doubt to the democracy.”

    Unless of course we know the details behind the failure, and indeed, in this case we do. The U.S. first stalled on its promise to help NK build light water reactors, and, when progress hadn’t been made eight years into the agreed framework, the Bush Administration declared that NK had a secret uranium enrichment programme, cut off all the oil they had been supplying to NK which had been less than the original amount agreed anyway. The uranium progamme was first mentioned by Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly, has been denied by Pyongyang and has been doubted by notable specialists on the acquisition of nuclear technology in Washington (eg. Selig S. Harrison). The Foreign Minister of China and South Korean Intelligence also stated they were unconvinced there was ever any uranium programme . Intelligence estimates and information from Pakistan tells us that the Norks only had a few dozen centrifuges – not enough for an active programme. And in any case, why would they persue uranium enrichment when their major reactor ran on plutonium and they had enough of that to fashion somewhere between 5-20 bombs lying around? Per chance Mr. Kelly was exagerrating something he heard… hmm?

    DPF… Now I think you are starting to believe NK propaganda. The Kims constantly tell their subjects that the Japanese are the historical enemy for much the same reason that the CCP do – their battle (and single-handed victory!) against the Japanese during the war lends them a veneer of legitimacy. When you want unity in the castle you tell stories about the enemy, and while I imagine the regime gets the jitters when it looks across at SK, I don’t imagine many in North Korea could be led to imagine their “misguided Southern brothers” as anything but that.

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  23. Charlie Tan () says:

    My thoughts exactly, Wayne.

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  24. Catwoman () says:

    Oh dear. Another example of Winnie yelling when he was supposed to be listening. He thought they said “Career” and is heading off for more baubles…………………..

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  25. Neil Morrison () says:

    “Intelligence estimates and information from Pakistan tells us that the Norks only had a few dozen centrifuges – not enough for an active programme. And in any case, why would they persue uranium enrichment when their major reactor ran on plutonium and they had enough of that to fashion somewhere between 5-20 bombs lying around?”

    So we agree, NK was actually engaged in a secret weapons programme despite the agreement they reached with the US. The US was right to be suspicious. But you seem to think that because this programme was not fully developed it is of no significance. But those centrifuges had only one purpose – to form the basis for another weapons production programme. They weren’t going to be used to make tea. Do you think Kelly should have waited until they had a fully fledged enriched uranium production line?

    You ask why NK should want to develop a uranium bomb when they could so easily have a plutonium one. Because it was a programme they could develop in secret with the connivance of A.Q. Khan.

    I agree that the US failed to meet part of its deal. But that is no excuse for NK’s behaviour. Their mo is “we starve our people and destroy our economy so we can live in luxury and power and unless you give us more oil which we do not guarantee will be used to benefit the people of NK we will build nuclear bombs”. That’s the cycle of blackmail the US has been trying to break.

    “New Zealand has had a suprisingly close involvement in this whole issue in partnership with traditional friends and allies. I suspect he is preforming something of the role of honestbroker, well aware of the messages that other nations need to get through to North Korea.”

    Given that the six party talks appear to be working – the IAEA has just this month confirmed that NK has shut down Yongbyon – it’s odd that there’s a sudden need for Peters’ intervention. I can’t see exactly what messages those “other nations” (China?) would possibly be sending to NK via Peters that they haven’t already given a thousand times before to NK but more directly. But it’s possible. If true and it fails the blame lies, as it always has, with NK.

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  26. Charlie Tan () says:

    “So we agree, NK was actually engaged in a secret weapons programme despite the agreement they reached with the US. The US was right to be suspicious. But you seem to” think that because this programme was not fully developed it is of no significance. But those centrifuges had only one purpose – to form the basis for another weapons production programme. They weren’t going to be used to make tea. Do you think Kelly should have waited until they had a fully fledged enriched uranium production line?”

    Kelly didn’t have to “wait” for anything. The reason he knew that the Norks had a programme was – according to him – because the Kim regime had told him, a claim the Norks emphatically deny. The fact that the Norks had excess plutonium at Yongbyong was well known to the U.S. before they signed up to the agreed framework. And it was held as a bargaining chip if the U.S. reneged, which they did.

    Aside from that we seem to agree on more than we disagree as regards the criminality of the NK regime, so please don’t dump that “you’re supporting an evil regime” crap on me please. It is merely our approach that seems to be different. I view Kim regime’s behaviour as an dependant variable that can be altered by external pressure. I believe it is possible to point to the different ways NK has reacted to different kinds of pressure by the U.S. over time, including during the recent negotiations, when the U.S. has correctly taken a more flexible position – albeit with still great reluctance to get the light water reactors on track. I was led to believe that you found dealing with such a dispicable regime morally redundant no matter what the outcome was and hence you prefer isolating NK. This is a strategy that I think the regime would see as provocative and respond in kind with brinkmanship, which I would hope to avoid. I could be wrong about you though, because you seem to approve of Bush’s current negotiations – nevertheless, you do want to define Kim’s brinkmanship as blackmail, despite the fact that we know the U.S. only invades those nations it knows don’t have weapons of mass destruction. One man’s blackmail is another man’s deterrent, perhaps?

    I would say Winston’s role is to make it clear that this issue is of concern to the wider international community. Nothing more glamorous than that, but still more than a flippant visit to a somewhat screwy Asian tourist mecca, which is how it is being represented by some commenters here.

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  27. Charlie Tan () says:

    P.S. Who knows why they wanted the centrifuges (although we don’t really know that they had them)? Maybe they thought they had applications elsewhere. In any case it takes thousands of centrifuges to enrich uranium for use in weapons. And it isn’t really wise for people involved in negotiations to accuse their counterparts on the other side of duplicity unless they can prove it, less so when their own experts and partners in the negotiations process don’t believe them.

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  28. Neil Morrison () says:

    I wasn’t intending to imply anything like “you’re supporting an evil regime” my point was I considered you overly critical of the US.

    Yes I do consider the NK leaderships negotiating technique to be blackmail, they’ve been doing the same thing since long before Bush and Iraq – bail our corrupt little asses out or we build the bomb.

    I in fact do believe in negotiation I just believe that to date the reason that negotiations have failed lies firmly with NK. My sympathies lie with the US which understandably considers giving that regime the ability to keep itself going without them making any commitment to bettering the life of North Koreans to be very troubling.

    I also consider that isolating the white South African regime was the right thing to do and same international sanctions against Mugabe. But if Mugabe was to turn around and accept negotiations in good faith then by all means that should be explored, same with NK. But falls to the dictators to say they want change. And at present the six party talks seem to working.

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  29. Charlie Tan () says:

    Well then we agree on more than we disagree.

    I’m yet to be convinced South Africa is relevant, but you seem to misunderstand my position there anyway. I don’t deny that isolation was the right policy in that case, but that was because injustice was so palpable there. You had essentially a white community that wanted to keep the prerogatives of the state exclusive to whites, another white community that wanted universal enfranchisement for everyone and crucially thought the South African policy was turning the state into an international pariah and a black majority who agreed with the latter whites. With NK we don’t really know what is going on internally, but we do know that those that don’t agree with the regime end up in gulags apart from the general population and everybody else is indoctrinated into believing Kim and son have fought the good fight. They have no knowledge of the outside world and hence there is no pressure to change the system “from below” the regime. Thus change is more likely to come from on high and engagement seems a more sensible policy.

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  30. libertyscott () says:

    The value NZ gets out of this (virtually nil trade, remote from the military threat) is nothing compared to what this bloodthirsty regime of slavery and murder will get – Winston will be reported on North Korean TV, radio and newspapers are showing NZ as a friend, paying respects to Kim Il Sung – and looking like North Korea is legitimate.

    No, NZ not going wont change anything, but I wonder if those who argued for independent foreign policy would also argue that NZ should take a lead internationally on at least calling for it to stop imprisoning children for their parents political “crimes”. That is despicable.

    Besides, can you imagine the halfwit reporter TVNZ will send to follow him and wont have a clue, and will comment on how clean the streets are, how there is no congestion, no crime, everyone is so polite and how wonderfully ordered and well run everything seems to be. It will be so nauseating.

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  31. mara () says:

    How can Peters do this trip without throwing up from embarrassment?I have long argued that this man is mad.I rest my case.

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  32. side show bob () says:

    Hope Winnie gets his duty free before he gets there. Don’t think the shops are to flash.

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  33. Baba Booey () says:

    North Korea commands and Winston jumps. What an idiot for providing a propaganda opportunity for a murderous, thieving criminal government.

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  34. Shawn () says:

    Slowly bringing in NK from the cold seems like a good idea to me. Do we want them engaged positively with the West or allied to countries like Iran, Cuba, and Islamic terrorists?

    Winston has been a suprisingly good FM (especially compared to anti-Israeli blowhard Goff).

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  35. kiwibird () says:

    Swap ministers! Shame on you David. If we send them Winston we’d have to take at least six or seven of theirs to equal the harm he could do there.

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  36. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    What with China and Nth Korea we’re certainly chumming up to the communists

    Oh, that’s right,we’re socialist.

    I’m thinking we’re gonna become a deeper shade of red.

    Robert Mugabe for tea anyone?

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