[EDITORIALS]Stakes higher now with North
North Korea’s Foreign Ministry announced yesterday that it could not participate in the six-party talks because the United States had not changed its “hostile policy” towards the North. The communist state also declared that it possesses nuclear weapons for “self-defense.” The announcement completely overthrows recent predictions of western countries that the atmosphere for the resumption of the six-way talks were slowly coming together. We cannot but worry that the crisis surrounding North Korea’s nuclear weapons development will heighten.
Of course, chances remain that the shocking statement was a brinkmanship tactic often used by North Korea. It is difficult to judge whether the North declared such a strong position in an effort to maximize its compensation before heading into the talks. However, upon reviewing the statement in its entirety, it reflects the North’s intention not to give in to U.S. requests.
The statement claims, “The Bush administration has established a policy that it will never co-exist with us through President Bush’s inaugural speech, State of the Union address and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s confirmation hearings.” Declaring that the North “manufactured and retained nuclear weapons” in the name of its Foreign Ministry spokesman can be seen in the same vein. It gives the impression that North Korea will maintain its hardline stance until the United States recognizes Kim Jong-il’s regime openly.
If the North chooses to go against the unanimous demands of the international community like this, an enormous tragedy is inevitable in the end. It is evident that no country, including South Korea, United States and Japan, will give in to such threats by North Korea because peace on the Korean Peninsula is so closely related to their national interests.
The same applies for China. The only route for Kim Jong-il to maintain the regime and rebuild the crumbled economy is through giving up its nuclear program. We urge North Korea to return to talks at once.
The South Korean government must also reconsider its approach towards the North from the starting point. Most of all, it must get rid of the belief that North Korea will act according to our will if we are considerate of its position. There also is no room for error in cooperating with the United States.