[EDITORIALS]Pyeongyang Gets Another ChanceThe media is buzzing with news that U.S. President George W. Bush has strongly warned North Korea against miscalculations on the U.S. battle against terrorism. "North Korea should not in any way, shape or form think that because we happen to be engaged in Afghanistan we will not be prepared and ready to fulfill our end of our agreement with the South Korean government," Mr. Bush said in an interview with Asian journalists. The interview was given on the eve of his trip to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Shanghai. Mr. Bush warned North Korea not to take advantage of the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan with provocative military threats, even though there is slim possibility the North would do so.
North Korea has ignored U.S. offers to resume talks and canceled suddenly an agreement with South Korea to permit reunions of separated family members. North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-il, has not carried out his promise to visit Seoul in return for President Kim Dae-jung's visit to Pyeongyang last year. Mr. Bush said, "I've been disappointed in Kim Jong-il not rising to the occasion, being so suspicious, so secretive." Those words indicate that Mr. Bush's negative view of Kim Jong-il has not changed.
Since the Sept. 11 terror attacks in New York and Washington, the international order has been rapidly reorganized toward a division between terrorist powers and anti-terrorist powers. Regardless of the international community's negative opinion, Washington is pushing the so-called "Bush Doctrine," under which a nation is forced to choose to be either a friend or an enemy of the United States. An enemy can turn into a friend.
The status of countries on the U.S. list of terrorism-supporting states, which are branded as "rogue states" by Washington, can be changed according to whether they join the anti-terrorist alliance. The United States has already lifted sanctions on Sudan, one country on the list of terrorism-supporting states. North Korea also has a good chance to escape the list if it so chooses.
Thomas Hubbard, U.S. ambassador to Seoul, said Wednesday in an interview with KBS television that he accepted and welcomed North Korea's declaration against terrorism. He also said that he hoped North Korea would take action rather than just make declarations. Considering Mr. Hubbard's words, we can interpret Mr. Bush's message to North Korea as both a warning and a proposal for joining anti-terrorist allies to escape the list of terrorism-supporting states.
North Korea, in a declaration by its foreign ministry spokesman, said it condemns terrorism but it opposes a war in the name of anti-terrorism. We hope North Korea will take steps to prove that it will participate in the anti-terrorist alliance to improve relations with the United States and to shed the rogue state categorization.
North Korea could take such steps by participating in a North-South anti-terrorism declaration, as President Kim has proposed, or by participating in international agreements to curb terrorist activities. North Korea could agree with South Korea to ban the use of biological weapons, which are causing scares around the world about new types of terrorism.
North Korea should use Mr. Bush's warning as a good chance to be removed from the list of nations Washington accuses of supporting terrorism.