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Deals have been struck between individuals, groups, organisations and nation states from time immemorial. Some have changed the course of history – the great majority however go unrecorded and unremarked.

A deal-in-the-making was recently revealed in an intercepted phone conversation between North Korea’s ‘Dear Leader ‘ Kim (DLK) and the South Korean President (SKP). A deal for the ages, it may strike a chord with people suffering under other undemocratic regimes closer to home.

Some excerps from a transcript of that conversation, Wiki-leaked to selected news organisations, follows:

DLK : We need food shipments from you. Lots of them. And we need them quickly!

PSK : Ah. We’ve heard rumours of starvation and civil unrest in your country.

DLK: No, no – you don’t understand. Look, for a long time now, we have been portrayed by our critics abroad as a rogue nation and economic basket-case, trying to survive by beggaring the population and the clandestine sales of “scarce” materials – you know what I mean? We have to change this perception if we are to be seen as a responsible trading partner and attractive to foreign investors. Shipments from you will send out all the right signals to the big financial institutions ...

PSK: I see. So whats in it for us?

DLK: You know that we have a 100kt nuclear weapon targeted to do maximum damage to a strategic site near your main city?

PSK: How could I not ! You have been threatening to unleash it on us for years now. What about it?

DLK: Well, we are prepared to reduce its strength by 40%. Think about it: 40 PERCENT ! The people in the region will be overjoyed!!

PSK: The people here are pretty intelligent – they will no doubt figure that a 60Kt weapon would cause about as much death and destruction as the present monster. So you will have to do much better than that ...

DLK: And we can: we’ll ensure the warhead is only loaded with ‘clean’ fissionable material – not the dirty stuff which would lay waste to your countryside for generations. A ‘cleaner’ weapon would maybe only contaminate the area around the drop zone for 20 or 30 years. That’s a major concession ...

PSK: (Inaudible response, then)  I doubt that the people would see it that way. You’re going to have to offer much more than that ...

DLK: Tell me what;  we’ll look at anything reasonable ...

PSK: What about targeting a different site – so if some trigger happy imbecile ever presses the FIRE button, fewer people and businesses would be wiped out. Remember, they produce the stuff you are asking us to ship to you ...

DLK: Sorry, can’t do that;  our Weapons Delivery Systems expert, the only person who can reprogram the missile, is no longer with us – he was sentenced some time ago by the People’s Court to an indefinite period in a Re-education facility for crimes against the State. He later defected to the Chinese.

PSK: Yes – I heard all about your puppet master,  the notorious Por Lee Non. It’s a big worry though to hear that he is now working for the Chinese – he could cause a lot of grief for both of us in future ...

DLK: We’re still in contact;  a man without scruples and whose only allegiance is to money, is always useful ... Now – do we have the basis of a deal?

PSK: Let’s see;  you will still be targeting us with a WMD although you claim you can make it cleaner somehow. Even so, it would still of course be capable of inflicting enormous damage on one of our pristine and most productive food-producing regions. I can’t think that the people would ever agree to such a one-sided deal. Is that it then?

DLK: Look, I’ll send a special emissary to assist with setting up the necessary protocols such as having a local People’s Committee (chuckle)  monitor the deal. His name is Toh Nee Bok,  a member of our National Assembly so he’s a master of subterfuge and obfuscation. With him involved, you will have no need to worry about the bleating masses. Now, can I count on your support please? Forget our past differences – let’s cooperate this time so we can ...  I meant to say, so we ALL can, benefit.You can trust me on this one ...

(The recording finishes at this point with a lot of background noise, quite possibly uproarious laughter).

Deal or no deal?