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[EDITORIALS]Seoul caught in corner

June 10,2003
North Korea insists that it has no alternative but to build a nuclear deterrent as long as the United States maintains a hostile policy toward Pyeongyang. The United States is seeking to exert pressure on the North in concert with Japan unless the North gives up its nuclear weapons program. Trapped between Washington and Tokyo, the South Korean government is intoning a “peaceful resolution” but has no concrete measures.
President Roh Moo-hyun reportedly told his Blue House staff that during his recent meeting with Japan’s prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, Mr. Roh made it clear that he would reject any resolution other than dialogue to the North’s nuclear plans. What then happened to Mr. Roh’s promise to U.S. President George W. Bush that Seoul would consider “further steps” if threats from the North increase?
What is Mr. Roh’s real intention? Is he as fickle as a reed? How does Washington view such an attitude? Mr. Roh is making the wrong move to regain his supporters.
That may be the reason why the United States is trying to come up with measures to put pressure on the North along with Japan, such as economic sanctions and the interdiction and search of North Korean vessels in international waters.
North Korea, paying no attention to the South, escalated its threats to blackmail the United States; Pyeongyang is finally talking about the inevitability of a nuclear deterrent. While Washington and Pyeongyang engage in an endless repeat of threats, Seoul shouts “dialogue,” but fails to show the way to talks.
Seoul, which is insisting on continuing the three-way talks, has decided to agree with Washington and Tokyo’s proposal for five-way talks. We do not know if we will be asked to join any sanctions against the North. We never know how the North will threaten us. That is not acceptable. The government must reevaluate what will be the best way for us to resolve the nuclear crisis. It should be Seoul’s top priority to send a clear message to the North about the South’s position.


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