[EDITORIALS]A warning to the NorthNorth Korea’s declaration that it has nuclear weapons came as a shock to our North Korea policy. The government anticipated that the North would come back to the six-party talks, taking as a condition that it would only accept a nuclear freeze as a prerequisite for the talks. But the North, contrary to such predictions, declared itself a nuclear weapons state. Of course, it is not the first time that Pyeongyang has talked of possessing nuclear weapons. There is no need to be panicked by the North’s claim because there are many reservations about the statement.
However, it will be a problem if we can’t make any protests or warnings to the North’s surprise action that created anxiety and heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula. It is natural to criticize and present counter-measures to the action. Some officials of the Ministries of Unification and Foreign Affairs, however, have openly made comments that “there is no change in the position of North Korea’s inter-Korean cooperation,” or “our economic cooperation with North Korea will continue.”
While the North takes stronger measures step by step, our government continues to talk about reconciliation. Up to now, we have managed to promote economic cooperation with North Korea continuously, even under difficult circumstances, but the North has been pursuing its own interests. It should be noted that the North declared its possession of nuclear weapons at a time when the Bush administration had made conciliatory gestures toward it. This shows that the North interprets national security and denuclearization of the peninsula only in its own way, according to its own need.
Seoul response could be a tactic to induce the North back to the six-party talks. Even in that case, however, the government must criticize its declaration and take the measures against it that should be taken. At least, such low-profile comments as “inter-Korean economic cooperation will continue” should not be made. Words of appeasement like this can be made after we learn North Korea’s real intention. It is more likely that remarks like that wlll only create misunderstanding among our neighboring countries.
The government must refrain from making hasty comments until matters are cleared up. It must dissolve people’s anxiety by demonstrating a firm South Korea-U.S. alliance and issue strong warnings to the North so that it would not mis-judge the situation.