[EDITORIALS]North must start movingThe ninth inter-Korea ministerial conference gets under way in Seoul today, amid heightened tension from North Korea's nuclear program. Pyeongyang has said that the nuclear issue is for the North and the United States to deal with, which conflicts with Seoul's vow to raise the issue during the talks. It will be interesting to see what kind of reaction Pyeongyang has to Seoul's call during the talks for a resolution of the issue and whether North Korean delegates will ask to see President-elect Roh Moo-hyun while they are here.
The North has called for cooperation between the two Koreas against what it calls aggressive intentions by the United States, while maintaining that the nuclear program is a matter for itself and Washington alone to resolve. There is seriously misguided and mistaken logic in this insistence by the North. A nuclear-free Korean Peninsula must involve an agreement between Washington and Pyeongyang and also between Seoul and Pyeongyang. That is the basis on which the two Koreas agreed in the previous ministerial conference in October to cooperate to resolve the nuclear issue. And if a war breaks out on the peninsula because of the nuclear problem, it will result in a catastrophe, as the North said, for the entire Korea. How can the South be left out of an issue as critical as this?
Recent proposals of international assistance to the North would have the South bear the greatest burden, so South Korea must be given a key role in the solution. During the negotiations that resolved an earlier nuclear crisis in 1994, the South was left completely out of the talks, but it took on the largest financial burden under the 1994 Agreed Framework. This must not be repeated. North Korea, for its part, must also have enough confidence in the South to seek help.
The North must not believe that it can cooperate with the South in a fight against the United States. President-elect Roh has said that the South will work with the United States to resolve the issue peacefully; what we will never do is recognize the legitimacy of the North's nuclear program. Pyeongyang must not mistake our commitment to a nuclear-free peninsula; we and the United States do not disagree at all on that point.