[EDITORIALS]Complete dismantlementNorth Korea admitted having nuclear weapons during the three-way talks in Beijing and proposed a package deal to scrap the nuclear programs in return for normalization of relations with the United States. Before proceeding with anything else, there must be an analysis of the exact nature of the North’s offer and what the motive is. The South’s delegation to the 10th inter-Korean ministerial conference now under way in Pyeongyang said it would try to find out more about the North’s plan before moving on with the talks’ planned agenda items. And the fact that the U.S. administration pledged to continue diplomatic efforts even after the North’s declaration of having nuclear arms indicates that it is interested in the North’s proposal.
If the North’s proposal actually involves complete dismantlement of its nuclear programs in return for normalization of relations with the United States, it would not be significantly different from our government’s position. It would be, in that sense, worth a positive consideration, especially with this government’s standing offer to provide bold assistance to the North. But it is important to clarify what exactly would be involved in “dismantling” its nuclear programs. If it is about keeping whatever nuclear weapons it has built and only stopping from any more nuclear fuel reprocessing, it will not be acceptable. It is important to ensure that the suggestion is for a complete dismantlement of all nuclear programs and coming into full compliance with the 1992 North-South Joint Declaration of Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Considering past broken promises, it is necessary to approach the North’s proposal with caution. Another critical aspect is how to put in place reliable and transparent inspections of denuclearizing the North.
Consultations must be based on analyses of the North’s intentions. Not only a meeting of the Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group ― South Korea, Japan and the United States ― but also consultations with China is necessary. The issue is already well beyond the subject of inter-Korea dialogue. We need a creative solution based on not allowing North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons.