‘Normalizing’ North Korea

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‘Normalizing’ North Korea

The United States has removed North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. In other words, it has opened the way for North Korea to be acknowledged as a “normal state” in the international arena.

However, domestic U.S. law still imposes another sanction on North Korea, a prohibition on providing financial support or export guarantees to communist countries or countries cited for human rights abuse.

In addition, North Korea will find it difficult to get loans from international financial institutions as it will need to negotiate with those institutions, providing transparent statistics and implementing structural reforms to become an open economy. Unless North Korea decides to reform and open, these are not issues that can be resolved easily.

Therefore, if North Korea wants to maximize the effect of being removed from the U.S. list of terrorism sponsors, it needs fundamental change. It should take measures in accordance with international rules and norms.

First and foremost, it should scrap its nuclear facilities. It must clearly bear in mind that no country in the international community will provide financial support to a country that threatens the world with nuclear weapons.

The Bush administration has, unfortunately, demonstrated unprincipled negotiations with North Korea.

It may have been burdensome for the Bush administration to shake itself free of North Korea’s threat to stop its denuclearization process and halt the six-party talks. And it would be difficult to let everything achieved so far - the freezing of North Korea’s nuclear program and steps toward denuclearization - to go to waste after so much effort.

Even so, backing off after having firmly proclaimed that it would not remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism unless all of North Korea’s nuclear facilities were thoroughly verified is the result of a lack of strategy. The next U.S. administration should learn from this failure.

Our government is welcoming this step taken by the United States. This is hardly surprising as resuming the six-party talks and seeing progress in North Korea-U.S. relations will help stabilize the Korean Peninsula.

There are many who are surprised by how the United States repeatedly concedes to North Korea in negotiations. This has been the case since North Korea tested nuclear weapons in 2006.

That said, we must keep in mind that this step can only be a good one when dealing with the North Korean nuclear program.
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