[OUTLOOK]Deceit, yes, but also an opening

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[OUTLOOK]Deceit, yes, but also an opening

The news that North Korea acknowledged to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly that it is pursuing nuclear weapons development did not surprise us. Rather, it causes us to look back at the disappointing years in which we humored North Korea even though we knew that Pyeongyang was deceiving us. Indeed, we are not so much surprised at the North's "new fact" as disappointed at the South's behavior to deal with the North's obvious fact mendacity.

Both Koreas, in the 1992 Joint Declaration of Denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula, promised that they would eliminate any possible threat of nuclear war in the Korean Peninsula and contribute to world peace. They also agreed that they would use nuclear energy only for peaceful purposes and pledged to not use uranium enriching nor nuclear reprocessing facilities. North Korea also declared through the 1994 Geneva Agreed Framework with the United States that it would stop all nuclear related activities in return for two light water reactors for electricity, which are under construction with technology and funding from the United States and South Korea.

Under these circumstances, the North's acknowledgment of a nuclear weapons development plan and its remark "we have stronger arms" means that the North broke all the nuclear related agreements, declarations and promises it has made internationally. If indeed the North's claim is true, the South's policies, such as its support for the North's economic development, the supply of light water reactors and the Mount Geumgang tourism project, put Seoul in the position of helping the North's secret nuclear weapons development plan.

The North's nuclear plan will change the environment under which the South's sunshine policy operates. The South is expected to analyze why the North acknowledged it has a plan. We need to find out whether it is out of genuine effort to get international understanding and help by confessing its past violations or a reiteration of its strategy to obtain material benefits while sustaining its system. What is clear here is that as long as the very foundation of the North Korean regime remains unchanged, it is hard to expect it to clarify its past and open a new way of life there.

What kind of measures should we take? First, we need to understand that the North's acknowledgment of a nuclear weapons development program does not surprise or threaten us. We have never believed that the North completely abandoned its nuclear weapons development plan through the 1992 Joint Declaration of Denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula or the 1994 Geneva Agreed Framework. We have just tried to find out the conditions of the North's nuclear plan.

Now that the North has acknowledged its plan voluntarily, the South Korean government, along with those of other countries, should strongly demand from the North total disclosure of its plans and their revocation. In the region, Russia and China can cooperate with South Korea on this matter.

Second, the peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue depends upon its abandonment of the weapons plan. Both the South Korean and U.S. governments have expressed their opinion that the case should be solved peacefully by dialogue. But this is based on the supposition that the North voluntarily gives up its development program. Thus, the South's future support and cooperation for North Korea should be dependent upon the North's abandonment of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

Third, the North's appeasement policies, such as its participation in the 2002 Busan Asian Games, after its despicable surprise attack in the West Sea in June, show the North's duplicity toward the South. Thus, it is necessary for the South Korean government to prepare for the North's provocations while promoting cooperation and harmony in the Korean Peninsula. Now is the time for the South to ask the North for transparency in their policies and the principle of reciprocity.


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The writer is a former vice minister of the Ministry of National Defense.

by Park Yong-ok

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