[EDITORIALS]A flawed agreement

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[EDITORIALS]A flawed agreement

The agreement reached at the eighth inter-Korean ministerial talks has many flaws regarding Pyeongyang's nuclear development program. The South Korean delegation had said it would make North Korea clarify allegations surrounding the secret nuclear program and demand that the North fully comply with the 1994 Geneva Agreed Framework. Those goals were not addressed in the agreement.

The joint agreement said that the South and North would cooperate to resolve all issues, including the nuclear issue, through talks. The wording of the agreement is extremely ambiguous. The clause does not say which party has the nuclear program and what kinds of nuclear issues must be resolved. Why did the delegation have to stay in Pyeongyang for an extra day when they came back with an agreement that does not even specify that the nuclear issue in question is the North's?

Furthermore, the issue of highly enriched uranium has been mixed in with other issues in the document, thus forcing us, in fact, to accept the North's demand that all issues must be resolved together as a package. We should not have agreed with that demand. Finally, North Korea has repeatedly urged the United States to comply with the 1994 Geneva Agreed Framework, but we were not given a promise from the North that it will honor that accord itself.

But Seoul probably agreed to that strange language because President Kim Dae-jung wanted something to show Washington at Saturday's meetings in Mexico. The United States demands that the North Korean nuclear program be dismantled before any dialogue is held to resolve any issues. Whether the United States will respond to Mr. Kim's proposal is doubtful. Resolving problems through dialogue and dismantling the North's nuclear program should not be just Washington's stance but ours as well.

Seoul may have lost any role as a mediator between the United States and North Korea in resolving the dispute over nuclear weapons development because the vaguely worded inter-Korean agreement could provide the North with an excuse to insist that all outstanding issues be resolved as a package.
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