[EDITORIALS]U.S. must support KEDONorth Korea’s claim to have finished reprocessing its spent nuclear fuel rods has quickly rekindled the crisis theory on the peninsula. Amid the escalating tensions, Washington is reportedly considering withdrawing from the executive board of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, an international consortium established to build electricity-generating nuclear reactors in the North under the 1994 Geneva Agreed Framework.
The organization has been in jeopardy since the North broke its promise to mothball its nuclear programs and the United States stopped fuel oil shipments there. A halt to construction of the light-water reactors is inevitable unless Pyeongyang changes its nuclear aspirations. Without a nuclear safeguard pact between the consortium and North Korea, delivering reactor components is impossible, and the North is unlikely to sign the pact. Because there are technical issues, we understand the situation.
But we cannot agree with the United States if it is really considering leaving the consortium’s executive board. Washington knows better than anyone that the organization was formed not just to bestow favors on the North. It was to induce the North out of its isolation, to teach it the operating logic of the international community - a long-term contribution to maintaining peace on the peninsula and in Northeast Asia. Such aims should be elucidated again. “Separately from the future of the light-water reactor project, KEDO must continue to exist in order to maintain ongoing projects and possible new programs to be launched in the North, other than the light-water reactor construction,” said Han Sung-joo, the Korean ambassador to the United States. His remarks are accurate.
William Perry, the defense secretary in the Clinton administration who worked on devising U.S. policy toward North Korea, criticized the Bush administration’s lack of policy and inconsistency. If Washington walks out of the consortium’s executive board after halting the light-water reactor construction, it will be remembered as an example of a shortsighted U.S. decision.