[EDITORIALS]Why no exasperation?Choi Su-heon, the deputy foreign minister of North Korea, said Wednesday in New York that the North had reprocessed used nuclear fuel rods, and a spokesman for the North’s foreign ministry said Pyeongyang has completed the reprocessing of all 8,000 rods it possesses and will use them for a nuclear deterrent.
We fear that those remarks will reignite a crisis on the Korean Peninsula.
Whether the latest North Korean move is a threat to get more concessions in negotiations with Washington or a highly sophisticated tactic to make a nuclear North Korea a fait accompli is too early to decide. Judging that it was completely isolated in the recent six-way talks, the North has announced that the multilateral talks were of no use and that it would not participate in another round.
That all suggests that Pyeongyang is trying to ratchet up the pressure on the United States.
Because the North, while engaged in negotiations, has been stepping up its threats and rattling what it says are nuclear warheads, it is difficult to say that the threat is only a negotiating ploy. North Korea could be serious about becoming a nuclear power.
That would endanger our national security gravely, and the United States would certainly adopt a completely different attitude toward the ongoing negotiations to find a solution.
It is difficult to understand why our government says it is still optimistic about settling the problems peacefully.
Seoul must be prepared to cope with the two differing attitudes Pyeongyang is showing. It must make clear to the North that our patience and that of the United States will run out if the North continues to develop nuclear weapons. We must demand that the gambling stop.
Seoul must also strengthen its cooperation with the United States and Japan while creating an atmosphere where China can exercise influence over the North. The present state of Korean security is too fragile to overlook North Korean tactics and dismiss them as mere negotiating techniques.