Talks skirted existing armsThe six-party talks have concluded and a joint statement was produced. It was agreed that North Korea will take measures disabling its nuclear facilities and undergo inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency in exchange for up to 1 million tons of fuel (or its energy equivalent) and food aid provided by the five other countries involved in the talks.
The agreement takes on added meaning because the North has 60 days to disable its nuclear facilities, and incentives will be given out on a piecemeal basis that coincides with the North’s level of compliance with the terms of the agreement.
This ensures that implementation will be more effective. In addition, it is also noteworthy that five working groups have been formed to address various issues, such as the normalization of ties between the United States and the North.
Nevertheless, there are also some shortcomings. First, the basic framework for the current agreement repeats the framework of the 1994 agreement.
What is even more problematic is that nuclear weapons currently in the North’s possession were not even mentioned in the negotiations.
The government argues that the underlying pretext for the agreement is scrapping the North’s nuclear capability. In order to achieve that, other measures, such as providing a light water reactor to the North, will be discussed as an incentive. If we continue to depend on negotiations that use incentives to the North as leverage for freezing future nuclear activities, there is a chance that the North will get away with the possession of nuclear weapons. The government needs to get tough on this issue, and in future negotiations needs to link the North’s current nuclear arsenal to future aid.
It will also be interesting to see how the five parties involved in the talks pay for the promised energy aid. The government has announced that this is a mission in which the burdens will be shared equally. Nevertheless, looking at the circumstances of each country, it is questionable whether that will happen. We have to use our diplomacy to make sure the burden is shared.
Above all, the agreement of the Korean people must be obtained in coming up with the necessary financial means. We have to avoid arrogant suggestions, such as the one made by the former unification minister, who suggested providing millions of kilowatts of electricity to the North in exchange for getting a deal done.