[EDITORIALS]No ambiguity on the NorthU.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday that North Korea should return to the six-party talks, instead of throwing up “smoke screens.” She also said she won’t apologize to the North for calling it an “outpost of tyranny,” saying she “doesn’t know that one apologizes for speaking the truth.” In short, Ms. Rice announced that there will be no changes in U.S. policy on North Korea.
Her remarks that “[North Korea] took the carrots and ... started breaking their obligations,” and that “You would want to be careful with the North Koreans on front-loading incentives,” are also meaningful because they seem to be directed at China and South Korea, the latter in particular.
Since North Korea’s announcement that it has nuclear weapons, South Korea and the United States have voiced different opinions over what they see as the North’s intentions and how to react. Seoul argues that inter-Korean economic cooperation must go on and that refraining from aggravating the North will bring a quicker end to the nuclear situation. On the other hand, U.S. politicians and policymakers have voiced a need for hard-line measures such as referring the matter to the UN Security Council or holding back fertilizer aid to North Korea. Ms. Rice’s statement seems to be a message that the U.S. government will not consider the alternatives that South Korea and China want.
What’s even more worrisome is that Ms. Rice made these statements just before her visit to Seoul. Of course, her remarks could be seen as rhetoric. But why would she make her position so clear right before sitting down with the South Korean government? It could be seen as a message to the South Korean government that Washington will not change its position and that the ball is now in our court.
We must make clear our goal in dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue. It is a threat to us as well as a concern for the United States. We must declare our position of not accepting North Korea’s nuclear armament and confirm that there is no difference with the United States. The urging by a U.S. politician that South Korea specify its enemy is an indirect expression that many in the United States do not trust the South. Our government must match its words to its deeds to win the trust of the United States. Only after such trust is built will the two countries have frank discussions on diplomatic means.