Jeffrey LewisThe Cooling Tower

I have a commentary over at 38 North about the political symbolism of North Korea’s construction/excavation activities near the ruins of the Yongbyon reactor’s cooling tower:

What is clear is the political symbolism of the site itself. The Six Party Process, at least as we knew it, is dead and buried. The trucks and other vehicles are driving over its grave.

The Bush Administration feared looking like it was repeating a Clinton Administration approach to North Korea it had vociferously criticized.  So, the Administration insisted on a series of vanities  — multilateral negotiations instead of bilateral, “CVID” and “disablement” instead of a freeze — that slowed negotiations and allowed hardliners to erect one obstacle after another, ultimately dooming the Six Party Talks.  The demolition of the cooling tower  just happened to be final, and most cynical, stunt in the Six Party Talks.

Other than misattributing Amadeus to Tom Stoppard, instead of Peter Shaffer, I am really happy with it.