Feature

Clearing North Korea’s name

Should the U.S. have removed Pyongyang from its terrorist list?

“The axis of evil lost a charter member this weekend,” said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial, as the U.S. took North Korea off its list of state sponsors of terrorism. In return, North Korea—which has “broken every disarmament promise” it has ever made—agreed to let international inspectors verify that it’s giving up its nuclear program. But that only applies to “declared nuclear sites,” so the deal is toothless.

Coming after weeks of “saber rattling” from Pyongyang, the deal’s “optics are terrible” for the U.S., said Victor Cha in The Washington Post. But despite its flaws and North Korea’s duplicity, President Bush is probably leaving his successor “the remnants of a workable nuclear disablement process rather than a full-blown crisis.” That’s progress.

Whether or not it was “the right call,” said Shmuel Rosner in Commentary online, delisting Pyongyang strips the terrorism list of any vestiges of “moral authority”—nothing changed to merit the move. Still, North Korea “is not going to gain a lot, practically speaking,” as the U.S. and U.N. will keep their economic sanctions in place.

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