What Does North Korea Want?

After months of mixed signals, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il says his country has nuclear weapons. Here's how the U.S. hopes to persuade him to give them up

Kim Jong Il has long taken a personal interest in staging North Korea's biggest celebration: his birthday. Typically, Feb. 16 is marked by fireworks displays, mass loyalty pledges, forced pilgrimages to Kim's mountaintop birthplace and the sudden appearance of food--gift bags of candy and cookies for the children unlucky enough to be born in such an isolated, impoverished and tyrannical land.

But Kim has outdone himself this year. Days before his 63rd birthday this week, his government announced that, as has long been suspected by U.S. intelligence, North Korea has indeed built nuclear weapons "for self-defense." Though the bulletin ended years...

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