[EDITORIALS]Steady pressure on North

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[EDITORIALS]Steady pressure on North

At the Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group meeting in Tokyo Saturday, South Korea, the United States and Japan showed differences in their stance on halting the latest oil shipment to North Korea. International society must cooperate closely to dismantle the North's nuclear program, and such differences in the debate may create confusion in coordination. The oil shipment for this month is heading for the North's Wonsan Harbor. A decision on whether to halt the shipment will be made at the board meeting of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization in New York on Thursday.

Seoul, Washington and Tokyo have stressed repeatedly that Pyeongyang's nuclear issue must be resolved peacefully. Halting the oil shipment not only means the nullification of the 1994 Geneva Agreed Framework, but also implies coercion, rather than a peaceful resolution. A decision to halt the shipment also can be an effective economic sanction because North Korea is highly dependent on the supply.

North Korea has been obsessed with its survival and independence. It has even admitted to conducting a clandestine nuclear program to "protect" its regime's survival. Taking account of such developments, Seoul has another option: It should try hard to persuade Tokyo and Washington to warn Pyeongyang on a deadline to dismantle its uranium enrichment program and the possibility of other actions, such as a temporary halt or termination of the oil shipment. Our efforts should be part of the roadmap that our allies will draw up to dismantle the North's nuclear program.

The differences among Seoul, Tokyo and Washington are only a part of the struggle to find a realistic resolution to reach a mutual aim -- dismantling the North's nuclear program. If Pyeongyang tries to avoid the current crisis by giving excuses, it has to pay for its misjudgment. North Korea must understand that the current debate about the oil shipment is only the start of an international effort to pressure the North. To allow Seoul and Tokyo to balance Washington's harsh chastisement, North Korea must demonstrate the intention to scrap its nuclear program in a verifiable manner.
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