From the LA Times:
In response to North Korea's concerns for its security, the United States has said repeatedly that it has no intention of attacking or invading the hard-line communist state, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said that the U.S. does not question North Korea's sovereignty.
But Rice has not expressly said that the United States harbors no "hostile intent" toward or promises "peaceful coexistence" with the regime in Pyongyang — language that North Korea has demanded as a condition for returning to the negotiations after a nearly one-year hiatus.
"The problem is that it's a North Korean formulation," said the senior official, who in keeping with diplomatic protocol declined to be named. "We don't want to be reduced to sort of a circus animal doing an act, being told to jump through various hoops at the behest of the North Koreans. We have told them really all they need to know" about U.S. policy.
We’re not circus animals! We're not hoop-jumping poodles! No, we’re lean, mean, tongue-tied predators!
Problem is, the North Koreans already know "all they need to know about U.S. policy", to whit: North Korea is a member of the Axis of Evil, our policy has moved beyond non-proliferation to aggressive counter-proliferation and military pre-emption, the U.S. claims a specific mandate to promote democracy and oppose tyranny around the world, and President Bush has a history of setting circumstantial and procedural traps for his enemies meant to demonstrate that an invasion not his decision but all your fault.
It seems the one thing that would persuade North Korea to abandon its purported nuclear deterrent is an explicit undertaking from the United States that it will not invade—under any pretext.
However, the United States just can’t bring itself to say those few simple words.
Perhaps, as the article implies, the U.S.A. cannot adopt the wording proposed by the North Koreans—because it represents a veiled insult to the phrasemaking powers of the elite US diplomats and wordsmiths who brought you “Axis of Evil”, full-spectrum dominance, “GWOT” (Global War on Terror) and “WAVE” (the War Against Violent Extremism, debuting soon on your local cable outlet).
Or maybe we feel that the right of the United States and its proxies to attack North Korea whenever a suitable opportunity presents itself is simply to precious to abandon in return for North Korea’s dismantling of its nuclear program—the reason this crisis is supposed to exist in the first place.