Korean Peninsula

As far as the world knows, the only thing to come out of talks between North and South Korea in May was that North Korea is receiving 200,000 tons of fertilizer from South Korea, transported by truck and ship. The nuclear issue was either not discussed in the May bilateral talks, or the discussion did not produce a result that could be announced publicly.

Going into the meeting, analysts speculated that North Korea’s aim was to receive food and fertilizer and also to form a united front with South Korea against “hostile” U.S. policy. So far, there appear to be no indications that North Korea succeeded in pulling South Korea any farther away from the U.S. than it already was before the meeting.

North Korea will have good use for the fertilizer. The country has received no food aid from the United States since the beginning of 2005, and may not receive any for several more months, at least. The U.S. says the reason is that countries in Africa and other regions are asking for food, too, and there just isn’t enough to go around.

More immediate help is coming from the South Korean private non-profit organization “Bread of Love,” which is shipping 100 tons of wheat flour to North Korea. It says it hopes to raise enough money ship another 200 tons before the end of the year.

North Korea claims it possesses nuclear weapons and is building more. So far, North Korea has not conducted any nuclear tests, but the United States has said it has evidence that may be about to change. The “six-party talks” (North and South Korea plus U.S., China, Japan and Russia) that were supposed to provide a forum for a negotiated solution are stalled. At least on the surface, prospects for their resumption appear slim.