NORTH KOREA'S DESPERATE MEASURES
Asia Times, July 17, 2010
WASHINGTON - Behind brave blasts of bombast and bluster, North Korea has one urgent reason for wanting to renew six-party talks on its nuclear program and separate meetings with an American general at the truce village of Panmunjom.
The overwhelming problem for the North is the nation is now on the verge of its worst famine since the mid-1990s when approximately two million people are believed to have died of starvation and disease. "Food shortages and a more general economic crisis have persisted to this day," according to a report released this week by Amnesty International. The North's "delayed and inadequate response to the food crisis has significantly affected people's health".
The Amnesty report quotes an assessment by the World Food Program (WFP) that belies the victorious tone of North Korean rhetoric since the United Nations Security Council issued a watered-down statement that avoided holding the North responsible for the torpedo attack in March on a South Korean ship in the Yellow Sea that killed 46 sailors. "The progressive improvement in food security" in the first half of this decade "has been reversed in recent years", said the WFP. "The country's reliance on external food supplies is again increasing."
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