[EDITORIALS]Unveiling the North’s weaponsAbdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, has said he was shown three nuclear devices during his trip to North Korea five years ago. If Mr. Khan’s testimony is true, that will have a great impact on South Korea’s policy toward North Korea as well as the six-nation talks on the nuclear standoff.
It is, of course, necessary to wait and see if the report about Mr. Khan’s testimony is true or not. But the problem arises that his remark is highly likely to be true. He is a nuclear arms program specialist, and he visited North Korea in 1999, when he provided the technology for uranium-based nuclear weapons to Pyeongyang. At that time, the North extended every courtesy to him. Mr. Khan’s remark is also very close to what the South Korean and U.S. intelligence communities have long suspected. These circumstances make the report very convincing.
The report about Mr. Khan’s testimony to his interrogators includes a factor that may produce serious fallout for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Until now, North Korea was suspected of having one or two primitive nuclear devices. But Mr. Khan’s testimony adds credibility to that speculation.
The situation on the Korean Peninsula may grow more serious than ever. First, North Korea must remember that the more effort it puts into developing a nuclear arms program, the stronger the international community’s efforts to dismantle it will be.
The North must change its way of thinking. It must have believed in the possession of nuclear weapons to maintain its existence. To survive, the North must join the international community, instead of arming itself with nuclear weapons. Including China, no neighbor of North Korea will permit it to possess nuclear arms. The sooner the North gives up its nuclear programs, the sooner it will receive economic cooperation from neighboring countries.
Seoul must prepare for Pyeongyang’s declaration that it has nuclear weapons. South Korea must make it clear to Pyeongyang that an overtly nuclear-armed North Korea will bar normal inter-Korean relations. Seoul must also unify South Koreans’ perceptions over the North’s nuclear program in order to prevent an internal split from arising.