[EDITORIALS]Progress made in 6-party talksThe six-party talks in Beijing that ended Saturday achieved some important progress, such as an agreement on the basic principles for resolving North Korea’s nuclear program and affirming denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. The most significant achievements of the talks were the declaration of denuclearization and an agreement among the six participants to establish working-level groups and reconvene sometime before June.
The talks can be evaluated as having made progress because this was the first time that the two Koreas and the other four countries agreed on the denuclearization issue in a joint statement, something that signifies that all six parties have agreed to a peaceful solution to the North Korean nuclear issue.
The agreement to establish working-level groups has proven the success of the six-party framework. The talks can also be evaluated for the mediation skills of South Korea and China. In particular, South Korea spurred the talks by coming up with a three-stage solution to lessen the gap between the United States’s insistence that the North abandon its nuclear program first and North Korea’s demand to act simultaneously. China also proved itself to be a responsible player with its careful and earnest mediation diplomacy.
But the talks regrettably did not make any concrete and substantial progress on solving the North Korean nuclear issue. The participants failed to solve their differences of opinion on the existence of a highly enriched uranium program, the specific programs to be abandoned and the respective measures to be taken at every stage. This forecasts a difficult path for the talks in the future.
Although both North Korea and the United States are wary of making any moves before the U.S. presidential elections in November, it is highly undesirable for the North’s nuclear program to remain as a dark shadow on the future of the Korean people and the stability of Northeast Asia for so long. North Korea must remember that its nuclear issue is not a domestic problem in U.S. politics.
The sooner it gives up its nuclear program, the better chance it will have of getting its regime and prosperity guaranteed. It would only be a waste of time to prolong the issue through working-level groups until the end of the year.