Fooled by the North, againThe 13th round of economic talks between the two Koreas were scheduled to take place from yesterday to Saturday in Pyongyang. The North has failed to shut down its nuclear facilities in return for a 50,000-ton fuel oil provision under the Feb. 13 agreement of the six-party talks. Whether or not Seoul will provide rice aid at the economic cooperation talks will be closely watched.
The government has repeatedly changed its position on the matter. At the inter-Korean ministerial talks in March, the two sides agreed to hold the economic talks on April 18.
At the time, the North reportedly wanted to schedule the talks at the earliest possible date, claiming that “rice aid and implementing the Feb. 13 accord are unrelated.”
The South, however, insisted on scheduling the talks after the April 14 deadline for the nuclear shutdown. The Unification Ministry has said its strategy was to wait and see about the North’s implementation, saying it was not “pouring” aid to the North.
Earlier this month, Seoul suddenly announced that it will provide rice unconditionally. Although the Feb. 13 accord has not been implemented due to Banco Delta Asia issues, the North has not shown any intentions of breaking its promise, Seoul has said, explaining why it would provide rice to the North. The Unification Ministry appeared to begin its usual move of defending the North to maintain dialogue.
At first, Seoul emphasized implementing the nuclear agreement and rejected the North’s requests, but then the South violated its own principles.
It is no wonder that the North, although it is receiving enormous aid from the South, is acting like the mother of Seoul.
To remove the stumbling block of the BDA issue, the United States made its best efforts and agreed to concessions. The issue, however, is not resolved yet because of North Korea’s internal problems. Therefore, blaming the BDA issue for the delay in the nuclear shutdown is no longer acceptable.
It is also time for Seoul to link the rice aid to the North’s implementation of its initial steps for nuclear dismantlement.
North Korea, once again, proved to the international community that it is a country that can break a promise at any time. The North must act right now and stop making a fool of Seoul and Washington’s commitments and concessions.
In every game, playing too much hardball always puts you in danger.