[EDITORIALS]Resuming the talksNorth Korea says it will return to the six-party talks. We welcome Pyeongyang’s decision. It has been almost half a year since the first talks began, and we have worried that the multilateral framework to solve the problem of the North’s nuclear program would be lost if the talks did not resume.
After the Untied States refused bilateral talks with North Korea, the six-way talks became the best negotiating forum. It is useful to have a channel of dialogue through which South Korea and China can suggest compromises to the United States, which maintains a tough stance. The talks can work to keep things from getting worse, and that is the reason why Seoul supported multilateral talks.
There are things both Koreas should bear in mind. First, Pyeongyang should believe in the good will of the participating nations. Pyeongyang claimed on Jan. 8 that it had displayed its “nuclear deterrence” to Washington and hinted at using the claim as a basis for the talks. Such dangerous acts by Pyeongyang may have been a scheme to make the international community accept the country’s nuclear weapons as an established fact. But it should be aware that such acts also work in reverse, and the international community may take tough measures to rid the North of its playthings. Pyeongyang’s frequent changes in its position, as shown in the case of its highly enriched uranium program, will not work anymore. The North should understand that it will never acquire, to the degree it wants, an international guarantee of its political system without some minimum confidence among the nations participating in the talks.
Pyeongyang will also have to recognize that South Korea is not a hostage of the talks but an important partner who guarantees its security.
Seoul should make Pyeongyang understand that it has no more room to play. Seoul will also have to persuade Washington that the North Korean nuclear problem should be solved peacefully. Seoul’s past negotiating experience with Pyeongyang will be a good asset for the talks.
If such an effort is not forthcoming, we will face a situation in which our fate is decided without our influence. We will have to explore ways to sustain momentum at the talks, which will take place in two weeks.