[FOUNTAIN]Pyongyang warned by United StatesArticle 1 of the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States specifies four qualifications a state should possess: a permanent population, a defined territory, a government and the capacity to enter into relations with other states.
States that meet the above qualifications have sovereignty, freedom and autonomy to make decisions without the intervention of other nations.
The charter of the United Nations mandates that members refrain from the use of force. It further says the United Nations will not intervene in matters within the domestic jurisdiction of any state. The charter says the United Nations “shall not impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations.”
However, the world has changed. A war used to mean an invasion over a border by an armed force. However, the definition of war has evolved. Then there is an issue of terrorism.
A small-scale terrorist attack is different from a war. In the war against the terrorism, nations are considering the possibilities of a strategic invasion, coordinated attacks and more expansive connections. For instance, when a series of unrelated attacks happens, the state would consider it an armed attack. There is also the possibility of an indirect, proxy invasion by providing military assistance to an anti-government organization of another country.
A nuclear attack is a more sensitive issue. Due to its destructive power, the right of self-defense becomes meaningless.
C.G. Fenwick defined that when a nuclear weapon is in hands of a state that intends to use the weapon, then the possession of the nuclear arsenal itself can be a reason to justify a pre-emptive attack in some cases.
In a report to the UN atomic energy agency on Jan. 24, 1946, the United States already concluded that a preparatory action for a nuclear attack was an armed attack. If Washington applies the theory to North Korea ― the “outpost of tyranny” that declared its possession of nuclear arsenal ― the result could be catastrophic.
Maybe, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had a special meaning when she emphasized that North Korea was a sovereign state.
As a preventive measure, she coyly promised that the United States would not attack North Korea and treat Pyongyang as an equal sovereign state.
If Pyongyang has gotten the message, it should join the six-way talks as soon as possible.
by Ahn Sung-kyoo
The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.