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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW849 2007-02-28 17:45 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #0849/01 0591745
O 281745Z FEB 07

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 000849 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/28/2017 
REF: 06 MOSCOW 11698 
Classified By: Pol/Min Counselor Alice G. Wells.  Reasons: 1.4 (B/D). 
1.  (C) Moscow's North Korea hands -- both official and 
unofficial --- welcomed the results of the February Six-Party 
Talks but remained critical of U.S. policies towards the 
DPRK.  While the MFA's terse announcement summarized the 
decisions made in Beijing, Foreign Minister Lavrov was more 
expansive in praising the U.S. for "flexibility" in salvaging 
the process.  However, the majority of Moscow experts 
continue to see a nuclearized North Korea as the product of 
U.S. policies.  While quick to criticize the U.S. approach, 
the Russian experts acknowledged that Moscow's role is 
limited and that Russia will continue to rely on U.S. and 
Chinese leadership in the negotiations.  End summary. 
Enthusiasm In Check 
2.  (C) On February 13, with the conclusion of the fifth 
round of Six-Party Talks, the MFA issued a short announcement 
welcoming the agreement as giving a new impulse to Six-Party 
process.  On February 15, Foreign Minister Lavrov elaborated 
on the GOR's reaction by praising U.S. flexibility in 
achieving a compromise.  At the same time, he argued that 
U.S. financial measures ("unilaterally imposed sanctions") 
had earlier derailed the process.  He pledged that Russia 
would provide energy and humanitarian assistance to North 
Korea and would continue to negotiate on North Korea's debt 
to Russia.  (Note:  Moscow has recently announced that the 
Russia-DPRK intergovernmental commission will meet for the 
first time in six years in Moscow on March 22-23 to discuss 
debt and transportation ties.) 
3. (C) Oleg Davydov, a Senior Counselor on the MFA's Korea 
Desk, was less positive about the results of the talks.  He 
told us that the GOR would not make a "celebratory 
announcement," in order to avoid the possible embarrassment 
of having to retract it.  He cautioned that in dealing with 
North Korea, what was important was not an agreement but the 
way it was subsequently interpreted. 
Regime Change Not An Option 
4.  (C) DPRK hands in Moscow think tanks were quick to pocket 
the Six Party success, while accusing the U.S. of losing time 
because of our approach to North Korea.  Russians argued that 
U.S. policy lacked clarity -- did the U.S. want regime change 
or did it want a denuclearized DPRK?  Aleksandr Vorontsov of 
the Oriental Studies Institute suggested that as distasteful 
as the regime was, and despite much "wishful thinking," the 
DPRK was stable and would survive for the foreseeable future. 
 The only option was peaceful co-existence, because efforts 
to induce regime change had failed.  North Korea, in turn, 
having lost its traditional security guarantor, the Soviet 
Union, and faced with a hostile U.S. policy, had armed 
itself.  In the meantime, the South Koreans were threatened 
by U.S. willingness to choose a military option.  In the end, 
Vorontsov said, U.S. policy had created a nuclearized North 
Korea and an increasingly anti-U.S. South Korea.  Vorontsov 
welcomed the February meeting results although he warned that 
mutual mistrust between the U.S. and North Korea would 
necessarily make further progress difficult. 
DPRK Wins A Round? 
5.  (C) For Vasiliy Mikheyev at the Institute for World 
Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), the only 
positive feature of the February meeting was that it took 
place.  According to Mikheyev, the February agreement spelled 
success for North Korea, which had promised little but would 
now receive economic aid.  He judged that the agreement would 
only reinforce the North's inclination to play the nuclear 
weapons card.  Mikheyev supported an engagement policy but 
thought that incentives were misdirected; the North should be 
encouraged and rewarded for concrete steps toward reform, not 
just for closing nuclear facilities. 
Who's Unpredictable? 
6.  (C) Aleksandr Zhebin at the Institute of Far East 
Studies, who served in the Soviet Embassy in North Korea, 
attributed the nuclearization of North Korea to the collapse 
of the Soviet Union and to what he termed the U.S.'s "wrong" 
MOSCOW 00000849  002 OF 003 
policy.  It was known during the Soviet era that North Korea 
was trying to acquire nuclear technology but it was a luxury 
then, not a necessity.  When the Bush Administration focused 
on regime change and invaded Iraq, North Korea "had to" go 
nuclear.  For Zhebin, North Korean thinking was predictable 
while U.S. policies were not.  Like many of our 
interlocutors, Zhebin stressed that the February results were 
essentially a return to the 1994 Agreed Framework, albeit in 
a multilateral guise. 
Verification: the Key 
82;7.  (C) Experts unanimously agreed that verification remained 
the biggest problem.  Given that the February agreement did 
not cover the current stockpile of weapons or weaponized 
material, Anton Khlopkov, Deputy director of the Center for 
Policy Studies in Russia (PIR Center), worried that North 
Korea could construct up to ten nuclear devices, using what 
it already presumably possessed:  40 - 60 kilograms of 
plutonium.  According to Khlopkov, it took the North's 
nuclear test to have the five parties focus on the main 
issue; how to de-nuclearize North Korea.  Kholpkov was free 
in sharing the blame for not preventing a nuclearized DPRK, 
pointing at the U.S. "obsession" with human rights and 
democracy, Japan's demand on abductees and China's refusal to 
use its "available" tools to influence the North.  Russia had 
not been wise to end its economic aid to North Korea because 
it removed leverage.  He urged that the Five coordinate 
closely to bring a joint vision and concrete, deliverable 
steps to the table. 
Sanctions:  Poor Substitute for Engagement 
8.  (C) Like most other Russian officials and experts, 
Aleksandr Khramchikhin of the Political and Military Analysis 
Institute thought that sanctions only reinforced the regimes 
meant to be hurt by them.  Georgiy Kunadze, former Ambassador 
to South Korea, agreed and told us sanctions would not work. 
North Korea would never entirely give up its nuclear program. 
 The "economic strangulation" would affect the North Korean 
people but not the leadership. 
China, the Leading Force, and Russia, in the Rear 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
9.  (C)  Aleksandr Lukin at the Center for East Asian and 
Shanghai Cooperation Organization Studies at Moscow State 
Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), claimed that 
the Six-Party process had been derailed by the U.S. but 
salvaged by China.  The U.S. pursuit of a military option on 
the peninsula was simply unwise, said Lukin.  Now that the 
U.S. was preoccupied by Iraq, it had to follow China's lead. 
Lukin joined other experts in believing that Russia had 
neither the means nor the political will to lead the process. 
 Mikheyev concurred with Lukin that China had moved from a 
simple organizer of the Talks to a leader which could steer 
the process.  Aleksey Bogaturov, Dean of MGIMO, maintained 
that both Russia and the U.S. had failed in their dealing 
with North Korea.  According to him, Russia, happy to be a 
passive participant in the Talks, would most likely continue 
to follow China's lead. 
Next Steps:  NE Asia Architecture? 
10.  (C) Vorontsov felt that the U.S. still had the greatest 
leverage over North Korea:  the prospect of diplomatic 
relations.  If the U.S. played its cards wisely, the North 
could be contained.  Mikheyev suggested that the Talks' fifth 
working group -- the Northeast Asia Peace and Security 
Mechanism -- could provide a serious impetus to the 
negotiations and to the region.  With or without the North's 
participation, the five could widen the agenda for collective 
security, he thought.  Bogaturov agreed.  He felt that the 
key missing element in the Six-Party process was a 
well-defined common aim, not just the rhetoric of 
de-nuclearization of North Korea.  An engagement policy based 
on a well-coordinated political dialogue combined with 
economic cooperation should be the guiding principle, he 
11. (C) Moscow experts remain skeptical that the North will 
entirely abandon its nuclear program and concede that Russia 
has little to add to the discussions.  As quick as they are 
to criticize U.S. policy, they recognize that the U.S. and 
China must continue to lead the way in dealing with a 
nuclearized North.  That said, Russian discussions with the 
MOSCOW 00000849  003 OF 003 
North after a six year hiatus bear careful watching. 


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