[EDITORIALS]North should heed U.S.’s wordsU.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, chief delegate to the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program, said that If North Korea continues to refuse to attend the talks, another solution must be found “one way or the other.”
Mr. Hill’s comments, made on his visit to Seoul Saturday, seem to support U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s warning that Washington maintained the possibility and the right to take alternative measures, such as referring the issue to the UN Security Council. This means that not only the hardliners in U.S. politics, but also the core figures in the negotiations, have begun to mention the possibility of measures other than the six-party talks.
Meanwhile, North Korea does not seem to be showing any signs of giving up its brinkmanship tactics.
At the Jakarta meeting of Asian and African leaders, North Korea’s No. 2 leader, Kim Young-nam, again declared the country’s intent to carry on its nuclear weapons development program. A U.S. media report even said the North might be preparing for a nuclear test. Tensions between Washington and Pyongyang are rising, and there seem to be no signs of their cooling down.
Mr. Hill said North Korea is not listening to the U.S. government’s proposals, nor making proposals of its own. North Korean leaders should heed these words. By refusing to attend the very six-party talks they had agreed upon, and by stubbornly insisting on possessing nuclear weapons, they are asking for nothing more than a tragic showdown.
Even if war does not break out, North Korea will only bring about an intensification of its isolation and economic woes. This is the inevitable reality North Korea will face unless it decides to listen to the warnings of the Bush administration, which is now speaking with one voice. If only to negotiate the guarantee of its regime’s security, North Korea should return to the six-party talks.
The South Korean government should also stop acting like an observer and participate more actively in the efforts to draw North Korea out. It should also examine measures for every possible contingency, including what to do in case North Korea reprocesses more spent fuel rods. It must continue to persuade North Korea that there is no other way, while reminding the United States that the only real solution is a peaceful one.