[LETTERS]An end to the North’s brinkmanship?
President Lee Myung-bak’s New Year’s message on Jan. 2 signaled his strong willingness to revive the stagnating economy and solve the possible financial crisis by utilizing all means at hand.
The Korean people watched him with new hope, focusing on what the president had suggested. Amid this new hope, one thing also lingers in our minds: What form will the new six-party talks take to deal with North Korea’s nuclear weapons issue? As North Korea closed the official talks by refusing to accept the U.S.’s verification protocol of sampling, South Korea’s position in the six-party talks has become decidedly vague and unpredictable as of now.
What shall we do about this?
Looking at North Korea in a larger context, there seems to be no change in its inflexible regime. North Korea repeats the same slogans of hard-line tactics against the South.
This implies that North Korea will never give up its nuclear weapons or nuclear-related facilities and it is likely that it will just stick to the maintenance of the orthodox divine parochial regime forever.
The longer the military dictatorship retains power there, the more the pains of ordinary North Koreans will increase without end.
In this sense, North Korea officially declared an end to further negotiations, maybe temporarily, on the ways, methods and conditions of completely, verifiably, and irreversibly eliminating its existent and already completed nuclear weapons and all the nuclear-related facilities and programs.
I could dare say, in this context, it definitely is the end of North Korea’s nuclear brinkmanship - no sensible experts will further expect the North to come to the dialogue table of six-party talks or in any other forms with the true intention of giving up its nuclear weapons, in return for crude oil or food.
North Korea will continue its tactic of negotiation and setbacks to buy enough time.
Amid this confusion, the Bush administration could not even adjust China and Russia’s stance on applying sanctions to North Korea by stopping fuel supply and aid.
In sharp contrast to North Korea’s attitude against South Korea, the North walks a very cautious, flexible diplomatic line against the U.S.
The Rodong Sinmun’s editorial issued on New Year’s Day squeezed South Korea by officially saying “North Korea will never endure any moves that are not in line with the June 15 and Oct. 4 joint declarations agreed by the two summits in the respective years of 2000 and 2007,” while Pyongyang showed positive feelings toward the U.S., especially toward the incoming Barack Obama administration.
This is probably because of Obama’s repeated remarks on the need to have direct dialogue with Pyongyang during his presidential campaign.
North Korea expects something from this new administration.
This could absolutely be North Korea’s miscalculation.
Anyway, I hope North Korea will give up its nuclear brinkmanship by completely abandoning all its programs and nuclear activities and any nuclear weapons in exchange for economic aid and security guarantees.
Actually that could not come in such an easy way or in the foreseeable future.
North Korea must not prolong nuclear brinkmanship by completely closing the door toward international society, and only remain strongly committed to a being a closed nuclear state, and thus further starve its people in the future.
With regard to this issue, South Korea must also remain firm and patient through either the stick-and-carrot method until North Korea really changes in substance and reality, hopefully into a normal, democratic state without nuclear weapons.
Park Tae-Woo, visiting professor
at the department of diplomacy,
National Chengchi University, China.