[EDITORIALS]North Korea’s waiting gameThe fifth Asia-Europe Meeting, which closed Saturday in Hanoi, reaped considerable results compared to meetings in the years before. A declaration of 60 articles on current international issues, such as the threat of terrorism and rising oil prices, were adopted.
Of great significance to us was the nations’ expression of support for nuclear non-proliferation on the Korean Peninsula and their call for a prompt reconvening of the six-way talks on the North Korean nuclear issue. The fourth round, which was scheduled to open in September, was indefinitely delayed after North Korea said the talks were useless.
The prospects of the talks are unclear. Pyeongyang has cited the revelation that South Korea had secretly extracted enriched uranium in a lab and the United States’ “belligerence” in its refusal to participate.
Neither claim has any grounds. The extraction of nuclear material by South Korean scientists was determined to be a “simple scientific experiment on a small scale” by the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors. The so-called belligerence of the United States is an age-old excuse by Pyeongyang.
Yet Pyeongyang is repeatedly calling the six-way talks “useless.” It is a shame and a reason for concern.
North Korea must correct its inconsistent attitude concerning its nuclear program. At times, Pyeongyang has boasted that it has nuclear weapons. At other times, it claims that any evidence of nuclear weapons is a conspiracy by the United States. Who can believe Pyeongyang?
North Korea seems to be waiting until after the U.S. presidential election before making its next move. However, no matter who gets elected, Pyeongyang should realize that it won’t benefit.
In the first and second televised debates, Democratic candidate John Kerry said North Korea now possesses more nuclear weapons because President Bush had not acted quickly enough. North Korea should understand that this means the United States won’t tolerate nuclear proliferation of any kind in North Korea.
The U.S. presidential elections are fast approaching and North Korea does not have much time left. Pyeongyang should put off making any more irrational demands and heed the advice of the 39 leaders of the member states of the Asia-Europe Meeting.