[EDITORIALS]Prudent words from PerryIn a meeting with theUri Party’s former chairman Chung Dong-young, former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry had words with valuable implications. “Healing relations between Korea and the United States is a key factor in finding a solution to North Korea’s nuclear program. South Korea must not try to win votes through anti-American sentiment, and the U.S. has to show efforts to solve the problem together with the South.”
While serving as Secretary of Defense under President Bill Clinton, Mr. Perry in 1994 drew up the hardline policy of “surgical strike,” which consisted of destroying North Korea’s nuclear facilities, and presented the so-called Perry Process as the North Korea Policy Coordinator in 1999.
The core of the Perry Process was to verify Kim Jong-il’s urge to forfeit his nuclear program and to apply sanctions if it is confirmed that there is no such intention. The process did not differ much from Seoul’s “Sunshine Policy” as it also included establishing diplomatic relations between Pyongyang and Washington.
Mr. Perry correctly diagnosed why the situation surrounding North Korea’s nuclear program has worsened into a nuclear test. He claims that both Seoul and Washington are responsible. The former secretary pointed out that the Bush administration’s one-sided hardline policy worsened the situation.
But he also indicated that the anti-American policy line taken by the Seoul government was another cause for today’s situation. The supporters of the current administration used anti-American sentiment to help their politicians gain power in the 2002 presidential elections, worsening relations between Korea and the U.S. and making it difficult for diplomatic relations between the two countries to play a role in finding a solution.
Former secretary Perry is almost the lone U.S. authority to have deeply agonized over various solutions to North Korea’s nuclear issue, from a hardline policy of bombing North Korea to a moderate one of establishing diplomatic ties with Pyongyang. That is why it is worthwhile to listen carefully to his advice.
One-sided hardline or moderate policies will not contribute to solving the situation. This is a message government officials in both South Korea and the U.S. must take in.