[EDITORIALS]The road to isolationUnification Minister Lee Jong-seok said negotiations with North Korea cannot take place unless it gives up its nuclear weapons program. He said abandonment of nuclear arms should be a precondition for dialogue.
If the six-party talks were to be resumed, the prospects for them are unclear. North Korea will devote its energy to persuading the U.S. to lift financial sanctions. If Washington shows some flexibility, Pyongyang will demand rewards in return for abandoning nuclear weapons. Reaching an agreement will be very hard. There is a long way to go and the tug of war between North Korea and the United States is bound to intensify.
North Korea’s return to the six-party talks is a form of surrender. North Korea used to say it would not attend unless the United States lifted all financial sanctions, but now the North has agreed to the U.S. insistence on talks. This is because North Korea fears the enormous impact of comprehensive sanctions unanimously adopted by the international community. This proves that the South Korean government's claim that sanctions on North Korea would make Pyongyang resist and lead to an increase in tensions is wrong. The government and the governing party should remember this as they move forward.
In the process of reaching an agreement for North Korea to return to the talks, South Korea's administration seems to have had no idea what North Korea, the United States and China were doing. The reason is apparent. The Roh administration did not grasp the gravity of the nuclear test by the North, the country that remains, legally, at war with the South. This has left Washington speechless and Pyongyang contemptuous. North Korea now thinks that sustaining its regime depends on the United States, not on South Korea, thus the North says nothing to the South. This is truly embarrassing. As North Korea and the United States have now revealed their intentions, the South Korean government must develop a new strategy. It should send a stern warning to North Korea about its inappropriate acts such as the nuclear test. It should forget the adolescent idea of raising its voice against the United States when South Korea is in fact dependent on the United States.
Although South Korea should leave the door open for dialogue, it’s more important now for it to join in implementing international sanctions on North Korea. Otherwise South Korea will become internationally isolated, and its attendance at the six-party talks aimed at eliminating nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula will be pointless.