[EDITORIALS]Promising signs during talksThe third round of six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program ended Saturday after making significant progress toward a solution. Above all, the talks achieved the first agreement on initial measures to freeze the nuclear facilities in North Korea and on compensation for such action.
Until now, the talks had only consisted of discussions filled with abstract rhetoric such as a “peaceful solution” and the “non-proliferation of the Korean Peninsula.” This time, the talks succeeded in setting up a framework for practical negotiations to solve the problem. One of our representatives commented that this was the first time it felt like a real negotiation.
North Korea and the United States are still unable to agree on the exact details of the “freeze and compensate” solution, the verification process and the existence of North Korea’s highly enriched uranium nuclear program. However, the two governments presented their proposals and expressed their willingness to reach a solution. This in itself is a big achievement.
It is especially noteworthy that the fourth round of talks has been scheduled for September and that the working group will convene very soon. This means that the momentum of the six-party talks will continue.
North Korea has asked for 2 million kilowatts of energy, to be taken off the “rogue-state” list and to have economic sanctions lifted in return for freezing its nuclear programs. The United States and the other participants are willing to consider these demands provided that North Korea shows clear proof that it has eliminated its nuclear program.
If future negotiations go successfully and these demands are accepted, North Korea would not only find itself in a position to get out of its economic troubles but to maintain its regime as well. North Korea would be sacrificing long-term, greater gains for smaller ones if it holds on to its uranium program.
Pyeongyang should realize that giving up nuclear ambitions and joining international society is the best way to secure its regime. The United States should also show some more flexibility in the fourth round of talks to achieve groundbreaking progress toward the solution to North Korea’s nuclear program.