Talking about North Korea again

Scott Tong Feb 8, 2007
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Talking about North Korea again

Scott Tong Feb 8, 2007
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SCOTT JAGOW: The U.S. and other countries sat down in the China today to once again talk about North Korea’s nuclear program. Usually, these conversations have a cloud hanging over them, namely that North Korea doesn’t listen to anybody. But there’s reason for optimism this time. The U.S. might be willing to unfreeze some bank assets of North Korean leaders. Marketplace’s Scott Tong reports from our Shanghai Bureau.


SCOTT TONG: The U.S. government thinks the Banco Delta Asia in Macau is a hub of illegal activity by North Korean leaders — laundering money and printing fake bills, for instance.

At Washington’s behest, the bank froze $24 million in Pyongyang assets in 2005. Seventeen months later, Susan Shirk of the University of California at San Diego thinks the financial pinch is working.

SUSAN SHIRK: Not just because of the small amount of money that was frozen in this one bank, but because of the ripple effect on other banks throughout the world and their reluctance to deal with North Korean money.

She says being shut out of the world’s banking system is motivating North Korea to return to the bargaining table.

Speculation is if Pyongyang leaders talk disarmament and nuclear inspectors, Washington may unfreeze half their bank assets and also offer economic and energy assistance.

In Shanghai, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

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