[EDITORIALS]Remember who’s on our sideIt seems that the efforts between South Korea and the United States to find a solution to North Korea’s “declaration of nuclear weapons” are beginning to take shape.
Earlier in the week, Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon agreed with his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, to use diplomatic means to resolve the North Korean nuclear problem and get help from related countries, such as China, to bring the North back to the negotiating table. As they made it clear they didn’t talk about imposing sanctions, so we can predict that diplomatic efforts to persuade North Korea will be intensified.
Now, the question is: How great are the chances for success? Optimists believe that although it may take some time, the North will have no choice but to return to the six-party talks. Pessimists, however, have been saying that it will be difficult to find a solution this time because the nature of North Korea’s recent announcements differs from that of the nuclear crisis in the early 1990s. Back then, talks resumed only after the United States agreed to “respect North Korea as an independent country and to not intervene in its domestic affairs.” This enabled a “give and take” approach between the two.
But the situation is different this time as the Bush administration is endlessly talking about the “transformation” of the North’s regime under its “expansion of freedom” doctrine. Since the focus of the problem has shifted, pessimists say a solution will be harder to reach.
We should have alternative plans if diplomatic efforts fail to find a solution, and South Korea-U.S. ties must be the basis for all decisions. Our government shouldn’t one-sidedly continue to make friendly overtures to the North. This is why the foreign minister’s recent comments, that large-scale economic cooperation between the two Koreas will not occur unless the nuclear stand-off is resolved, are important because it provides us with some leverage against the North.
North Korea will continuously try to stir up conflict between Seoul and Washington. What must be ensured is that miscommunication doesn’t occur with our allies or within ourselves on issues such as economic cooperation and fertilizer aid to the North.
It is important that we keep an eye on future developments while sticking to the principles agreed on with Washington.