[EDITORIALS]An outrageous admission

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[EDITORIALS]An outrageous admission

North Korea admitted to a U.S. envoy during his visit to Pyeongyang early this month that it has continued nuclear development. This is a serious and direct threat to our national security, thus requiring the government to come up with a special measure.

Pyeongyang, during last month's meeting between its leader and the Japanese prime minister, acknowledged that it had abducted Japanese nationals, but made no mention about kidnapping South Koreans. This is outrageous. The North had been concealing its nuclear development program, which threatens the peninsula, and admits it. These actions completely ignore South Korea, the true partner in reconciliation and cooperation.

The Seoul government, however, responded lukewarmly; it said the North's admission may be an expression of its willingness to resolve the security issues all together and improve its relations with Washington through dialogue. The U.S. government said in principle that it wants to resolve the situation peacefully, but it doesn't seem to meet the North's expectations without thorough inspections of the North's suspicious programs. Since Washington faces other imminent problems such as Iraq and a war against terrorism, it probably wants to earn some time, but may later deal strictly with the North Korea nuclear issue.

Since the North violated the 1994 Geneva Agreed Framework and the nonproliferation treaty as well as the 1992 Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, we believe that the light-water reactor project and supply of 500,000 tons of heavy oil to the North, agreed under the 1994 safeguard, must be stopped.

Leaders of South Korea, the United States and Japan will announce their measures at a regional economic cooperation meeting in Mexico on Oct. 26. And yet we still worry that our government's North Korea policy, largely to engage the North until now, will probably be completely ignored before the U.S. hard-line policy.

Because the North's nuclear program has gone on amid the South's sunshine policy, our engagement policy has been dealt a fatal blow. We urge the government to come up with a strong and profound alternative.

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