North Korea: Kim Jong-un was elected a delegate to the Korean Workers' Party Conference yesterday. His constituency is the Korean People's Army. He had no challengers. The Army also elected many other delegates to the Conference which will convene next month in honor of Kim Il-sung's 100th birthday.
Comment: Selection and then election of delegates is occurring nationwide, according to the Korean Central News Agency. This is normal, but it consumes the energy and resources of the state for more than a month. No substantive diplomacy or other official work will take place until after 15 April.
North Korea-US: The US on 28 March confirmed it has suspended planned food aid to North Korea. The decision is a reaction to North Korea's announcement of a rocket launch next month, which the United States says breaks the terms of a food deal agreed last month in exchange for a moratorium on long range missile tests.
Comment: The timing of this US action looks like an attempt to punish North Korea before it has done anything. The rocket launch is still half a month in the future.
Some US leaders might intend today's action as a deterrent. More likely, it will backfire by confirming the North Koreans' low expectations of the US administration. The North Koreans will interpret it as a US failure to keep its promises and will be even more encouraged to launch a rocket as an act of national defiance.
After Kim ll-sung's birthday celebrations on 15 April, the smoke will clear and some US leaders will realize that they still must negotiate with North Korea, assuming they continue to cling to the belief that the North can be coerced or talked out of having a nuclear weapons and missile delivery programs.
After 15 April, what will have changed is the price of a ticket to the negotiating table. That will have increased significantly beyond 400,000 tons of food. This episode of increased stress invar