[EDITORIALS]Don't worry, be happy?

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[EDITORIALS]Don't worry, be happy?

"North Korea's atomic weapons, biological weapons and chemical weapons are not for the purpose of attacking the South, but to serve as a bargaining chip when negotiating with powerful countries." These are the words of Jeong Se-hyun, minister of unification, on a TV talk show Sunday. He added, "Even if the North does possess nuclear weapons, it would be reluctant to make use of them in the small Korean Peninsula."

The minister's totally immoderate speech came as the war of words between the United States and North Korea has just entered a new round. The world watches with keen eyes every move by the Korean government. The international community is worried about North Korea's arsenal of chemical and biological weaponry and other weapons of mass destruction, and still ponders the past days when it tried to develop nuclear arms.

So far the United States, in accordance with our government's sunshine policy, has not pushed such matters, but in light of the Sept. 11 incident these matters have become a top priority. Hence, policy differences have widened recently and tension between these two allies has reached new heights as well.

Until now, we have supported with all our heart collaboration and interchange with North Korea to ease hostility and cement the peace mood on the peninsula. Nevertheless, dialogue and interchange should be based on firm ground rules and a clear awareness of the current situation. Peace does not come from illusions but from the power to protect it and from fundamental principles. We are curious how a person responsible for forming policies regarding the North could have come up with the absurd judgment that North Korea will not use its weapons despite the fact they exist en masse. If those words came out of pure individual expectations, one has to question the minister's too easygoing sense of reality.

Although North Korea has engaged in a war of words for a fourth day, there is no official response from our government. We need an indicator of a general direction in our policies toward North Korea and the United States. It is bad enough that our government, without a firm principle, is still trying to figure out the direction of the wind; but words like these from the minister are even more disturbing.
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