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The legacy of the late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung's decision in the early 1990s to pursue a strategic partnership with the United States has run its course. In its place, the focus of Pyongyang's policies has decisively shifted to Beijing. However wary the North Koreans may be of their neighbor, the fact is that from Pyongyang's viewpoint, the Chinese have delivered and the United States did not.
Over the past seven years, public debate and political commentary on North Korea’s nuclear program have pitted one mode of negotiations (bilateral) against another (multilateral). That debate obscured important lessons from the past and impeded diplomatic progress. The purpose of this paper is not to revisit the debate between the various approaches but rather to analyze the diplomacy as it has actually unfolded.