[EDITORIALS]North at a crossroads

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[EDITORIALS]North at a crossroads

Which direction is North Korea going to take? Is it going to escape economic hardship by faithfully implementing the reform measures it announced in July? Or is it going to go back to its reclusive isolationist policies and drive its people to hunger and death? Facing those two choices, North Korea stands at a crossroads.

When the North admitted its covert nuclear development program to a visiting U.S. delegation, it was assumed that the North's will to solve the nuclear issue had driven it to do so. It was believed that the North wanted to create a situation in which the North would be recognized as a power in the international community. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday that "the United States is willing to help North Korea if it ceases nuclear weapons development and other 'destabilizing' programs."

Ending its nuclear program without any rewards could hurt the pride of North Korea. But the country that brought this problem should suffer first. North Korea should first proclaim an end to its nuclear development program and promote a dialogue with the United States. By accepting the U.S. condition that it would first see Pyeongyang's action and then "offer economic and political assistance," the North should revive its economy and people. There is no time to spare. If the North doesn't accept U.S. conditions, heavy oil supplies from the United States will stop next month. Economic support from the international community is also decreasing drastically. If there is no progress on these nuclear issues, Seoul's cooperation and support will also be affected.

North Korea should understand clearly the position of the United States under President Bush. The North should understand that what the South can offer to the North without American cooperation will be limited. It is wise to catch the soft side of the American policy and make use of it. The North should know that if it continues its nuclear program, its people will starve and disaster will come to the peninsula.
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