[EDITORIALS]It's up to North Korea now

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[EDITORIALS]It's up to North Korea now

Relations between North Korea and international society depend solely on Pyeongyang's taking prompt and verifiable actions to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, the South Korean, U.S. and Japanese leaders agreed. The ball is in Pyeongyang's court. On the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the three leaders met Saturday and made clear that North Korea's future depends on its own decision.

In search of a breakthrough after it admitted its secret nuclear program, Pyeongyang proposed a nonaggression treaty with Washington. But international society's unanimous voice supports a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. The North has to make a new choice to secure its survival and independence.

Pyeongyang has a way out of its predicament. The three leaders presented their resolutions to the North. The U.S. president again said "the United States has no intention of invading North Korea." Washington also said that it "was prepared to pursue a bold approach to transforming U.S.-North Korea relations." Washington's stance is, at the same time, a warning that if Pyeongyang does not return to the state before its new nuclear development, Washington will ignore the 1994 Geneva Agreed Framework.

The three leaders said, "South-North dialogue and Japan-North Korea normalization talks can serve as important channels to call upon the North to respond quickly and convincingly to the international community's demands for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula." The expression, however, suggests that South Korea and Japan must join the U.S. pressure on the North, rather than pursuing unconstrained bilateral talks.

The ball is now in North Korea's court, but Seoul, Washington and Tokyo should never ignore the reality that peaceful resolution of Pyeongyang's nuclear program will come as a part of extended talks with the North. The inter-Korean talks, U.S. energy aid to the North and the light-water reactor projects in the North agreed under the 1994 accord must be used as the diplomatic means to pressure the North. Suspending them would be unlikely to lead to the regional security and stabilization the leaders called for.
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