[EDITORIALS]A game nobody can winSix-party talks to resolve North Korea’s nuclear crisis are expected to resume soon, one year after they stalled. It is said that the countries involved are now discussing which day will mark the resumption. People are anxious to see what kind of progress can be made in the talks, given that the anticipated round of six-party negotiations are taking place because Pyongyang and Washington contacted each other around two weeks ago.
When Pyongyang and Washington met, Washington offered a deal designed to attract Pyongyang’s attention. Washington said it would provide economic aid, establish a system for peace on the Korean Peninsula and begin talks aimed at normalizing ties with Pyongyang. All on the condition that North Korea abandons its nuclear weapons and technology in 18 months. An offer to discuss the enactment of a formal end to the Korean War by South and North Korean and America’s top leaders was unprecedented, especially considering President George W. Bush’s previous stance on North Korea and its leader. Mr. Bush called the North a member of the axis of evil and said he despised the regime’s leader, Kim Jong-il. But now the U.S. president seems to have decided he will not allow the North’s nuclear issue to damage his Republican Party in the 2008 presidential elections, as some say it did in the U.S. mid-term elections last month.
North Korea needs to pay attention to these changes in Washington’s policies. In this respect, Pyongyang should show that it is willing to halt its nuclear program. If it resists the U.S. demands in an attempt to get more concessions, it will end up getting nothing except greater pressure in the form of sanctions from the U.S. and its allies.
But judging by the way North Korea has played its hand so far, positive results are unlikely. For example, North Korea now claims, absurdly, that nuclear weapons have been installed in South Korea. Thus, the logic goes, Pyongyang must maintain a nuclear weapons program. It seems like Pyongyang now wants to make the six-party talks a forum for justifying its nuclear armament. At the talks, North Korea is likely to ask South Korea to provide economic aid such as food. If South Korea’s government complies without making an attempt to force North Korea to abandon its nuclear arms, the outcome will be a disaster. Collaboration with other nations including the United States will be severely damaged, and the current situation will get worse. North Korea is playing a high-stakes game with the United States ― South Korea must do more to make the game stop.