[EDITORIALS]What is the North waiting for?The United States has explained to visiting South Korean lawmakers the details of its overall policy regarding North Korea, including the issue of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
Richard Armitage, U.S. deputy secretary of state, said the United States has no intention of attacking North Korea. Nevertheless, he also said that if the issue of the North Korean nuclear weapons program is not resolved within a specific timeframe, the matter would be referred to the UN Security Council. He made it clear that if North Korea keeps stalling, the United States would exercise pressure on North Korea, such as enforcing an economic embargo.
Above all, the remarks by new National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley that the United States’ goal regarding North Korea is not regime change but its transformation are of great importance. “Regime change” means the downfall of Kim Jong-il, but “transformation” means the acceptance of the continuation of Kim’s regime while requesting reforms and opening up North Korea, much like China did. This indicates that the United States has reflected on North Korea’s demands that the United States should withdraw its hostile policy.
In addition, President Roh Moo-hyun said that he does not want the downfall of North Korea. For Kim Jong-il, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Under such circumstances, it’s time for Pyeongyang’s leadership to make a decision. First, North Korea has to come back to the six-party talks. South Korea and the United States have agreed that there is no other way to solve the North Korean nuclear crisis except through this channel. China and other nations involved in the talks share the same view.
It does not help North Korea to demand bilateral talks with the United States. North Korea has to remember that time is not on its side. It seems to be still attached to its brinkmanship policy, but the Bush administration has made it clear that it does not accept such tactics and has urged North Korea to make a decision.
Meanwhile, North Korea’s economy has been declining even more. North Korea has to know that further delay could lead to an economic crisis that could lead to a crisis for the regime. The answer is clear: It has to stop wasting time and needs to come to the six-party talks with realistic proposals.