Abductee issue a problemThe United States State Department’s 2006 annual report on terrorism recently again listed North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism ― along with Iran, Syria, Cuba and Sudan.
That is not a surprise, considering that the Feb. 13 accord regarding the North’s denuclearization has been indefinitely delayed due to the financial quagmire in Macao, China in which North Korean funds have been trapped at Banco Delta Asia.
However, the U.S. government did say in the report that it has agreed to begin the process of removing Pyongyang from the U.S. terrorism list as part of the six-party agreement reached in February.
The report also noted that North Korea is not known to have sponsored any acts of terrorism in the last 20 years.
It is an obvious signal that the U.S. administration is willing to take North Korea off the list.
Being named as a sponsor of terrorism is a stigma that North Korea must overcome to normalize diplomatic relations with the United States and become a member of international society.
The only way out for North Korea is to sincerely carry out the Feb. 13 agreement.
The country should put off the Banco Delta Asia issue no longer, allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency into the country and shut down its Yongbyon nuclear facilities.
The U.S. terrorist report suggesting the possibility that North Korea can be taken off the list of terrorism sponsors is positive.
What remains problematic is the fact that the United States report mentioned the Japanese people that North Korea abducted, but scrapped the entire part dealing with 485 South Koreans kidnapped to the North, which had been included in earlier annual reports.
The South Korean government has been less proactive in coping with issues concerning abductees and Korean War hostages. That is clear by the fact that the government describes abductees taken by North Korea as “those who have been missing since the war period.”
North Korea’s nuclear issue and the Japanese abductee issue should be considered separately.
It is understandable that the Japanese government’s steadfast stance regarding the matter affected the United States, which decided not to amend the report.
But the issue hampers North Korea’s possible exclusion from the list in the future.