[EDITORIALS]Principles and peaceThe two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia will begin talks tomorrow to try to resolve North Korea’s nuclear aspirations. Because the issue was so urgent and critical a threat to our security, Seoul has long hoped to begin a dialogue, regardless of the format. Eventually, multilateral talks were arranged by sharing the stance that an overtly nuclear-armed North Korea not only menaces the peninsula’s security but also challenges the peace and stability of the region.
Although six countries are meeting this time, the outcome of the talks depends on Washington and Pyeongyang. North Korea, staking the existence of its regime on the six-way dialogue, will persistently demand U.S. assurances to guarantee its security. Washington is determined to ensure that it will not have to handle still another crisis stemming from the North’s nuclear programs. The positions illustrate the difficulties facing the negotiators.
Seoul must remember its principles. It must keep in mind that a nuclear-armed North Korea can never be tolerated. Pyeongyang’s nuclear activities are undeniable violations of the 1992 inter-Korean pact on the denuclearization of the peninsula. At that time, the two Koreas agreed that nuclear development threatens the security of both Koreas; it does not guarantee it. That principle is still valid, and Seoul should also remember that it objects to any use of armed force to bring an end to Pyeongyang’s nuclear ambitions. A military resolution would trigger a war. But Seoul should not object to a carrot-and-stick strategy of both dialogue and pressure. It is also unwise for Seoul to speak of its economic aid package at the beginning of the talks. That can come later.
The North should remember that the other five countries at the talks want a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, and they will support North Korea’s membership in the international community if it cooperates. The North has long believed that blood is thicker than water, but it invited outside intervention by starting its nuclear program. Pyeongyang has to think deeply about the real path to peace and prosperity on the peninsula.