[Letter to the editor]North Korea must earn international aidA fundamental problem existed from the beginning of this year’s six-way talks. The United States, the most influential country in dealing with North Korea, failed to concentrate fully on devising an effective solution to the North Korean nuclear threat because of its preoccupation with Iraq. Furthermore, the other four countries (China, Japan, Russia and South Korea) also had different purposes and approaches to this issue; such wide differences in self-interest made an effective response to North Korea difficult to achieve.
Another major problem is that North Korea has a highly unpredictable regime that has no commitment to abiding by international rules and promises. Its violations of many earlier agreements, such as the U.S.-DPRK Geneva Agreed Framework in 1994, are examples that indicate North Korea’s disrespect for international order. Even after the February agreement, North Korea broadcast a distorted report on its government’s promise to shut down its nuclear program as a temporary discontinuation.
International efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue have so far failed because of unrealistic expectations that North Korea will abandon its nuclear weapons if the right incentives are offered.
The DPRK deputy foreign minister, Kang Sok-Ju, recently blurted out to reporters, “If we were to abandon our nuclear project, we would not have started.” As these words indicate, North Korea has no intention of giving up its nuclear weapons because it believes that these are the only means of extracting more “carrots” from the international community. The six-way talks have failed to eradicate everything related to North Korea’s nuclear program and ended up providing North Korea with more “carrots.” Kim Jong-il was shrewd enough to take advantage of the other five countries’ naivety and lack of unity. He has achieved his goal: he can now openly claim that his country is a full-fledged nuclear power. It is very likely that he will use this claim, in addition to false promises, to manipulate other countries into providing him the enormous aid necessary for him to remain in power.
In my opinion, the best course of action for South Korea and the rest of the world is to demand more reciprocity from the North, even if that means cutting off all economic assistance and ignoring its demands. Provide assistance to North Korea after verifying that the Kim Jong-il regime complies with the international agreements it has made. Undoubtedly, North Korea will engage in more vociferous outbursts in order to draw international attention, but at some point, its unruliness and tirades will end when it realizes that there is no audience for its histrionics. Assistance from the international community is sustaining the Kim Jong-il regime; without further assistance, the North’s government cannot continue to threaten world peace.
Andrew Taesup Park, Ogeum-dong,
Songpa district, Seoul