[EDITORIALS]It’s time the North faced realityThis year will be the turning point in the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula. The international community is showing a strong resolve to make a breakthrough at all costs and resume the stalled progress toward ending Pyeongyang’s nuclear aspirations.
The United States has already indicated that it intends to refer the matter to the UN Security Council if a resolution is not reached soon. Japan has made its alliance with the United States its top foreign affairs priority, and Tokyo will support Washington’s position on the issue. China, taking the Taiwan issue into account, can no longer support North Korea unconditionally.
North Korea’s economic situation is worsening due to inflation and the continuing food crisis. The regime’s New Year’s address put rare emphasis on agricultural production, an indication that conditions are desperate. Now is the time for the North to make a wise decision: to give up its nuclear arms program and become a responsible member of the international community. That is the shortcut by which it can achieve its long-time goals of regime security and economic recovery.
Pyeongyang, however, failed in its New Year’s address to give any indication about how the crisis might be resolved, though it did make a meaningless rhetorical demand that U.S. forces leave Korea. Pyeongyang still seems to have a poor grasp of international affairs. The regime argued that the Koreas must unite to counter U.S. oppression. While excluding the South from nuclear talks, saying it will only talk to the United States, the North is urging the South to join it in facing down U.S. pressure. That is extremely illogical nonsense.
At the end of 2004, a North Korean Foreign Ministry statement said Pyeongyang would watch and see what the Bush administration’s North Korea policy would be in its second term. But the U.S. position is firm and resolute. It will provide regime security and economic assistance in return for the North’s promise to freeze its nuclear arms programs and dismantle its facilities. Otherwise, Washington will take a hard-line stance toward the North. There is almost no chance that this policy will change. Other parties involved in the six-nation talks, including South Korea, share the position. It is time for the North to face reality and rejoin the six-nation talks, and make clear that it will resolve the nuclear crisis through negotiation.