[Outlook]Best plan for the North is the pastBefore sitting down at the negotiation table with a changed partner, North Korea is engaging in indirect dialogue with the United States. Before the Barack Obama administration launched, both Pyongyang and Washington emphasized their demands and insisted on respecting certain principles.
The North’s Foreign Ministry talked of normalizing U.S.-North Korea relations and said the removal of the U.S. nuclear threat to the North was a precondition to Pyongyang’s giving up nuclear arms programs. That is what Kim Jong-il wants of Obama.
About the same time, then-U.S. Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton and the new U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice both said that all nuclear programs by the North should completely end.
They both spoke about the possibility of resuming sanctions, making clear that they have high expectations for the North.
Now that the Obama administration has officially launched, North Korea and the United States are showing strong signs that they will begin talks.
In his meeting with Chinese envoy Wang Jiarui, Kim spoke about his efforts for denuclearization and to move forward the six-party talks.
In that meeting, Kim officially confirmed the North’s intent to resolve the nuclear issue through negotiations.
Although Kim met with a Chinese envoy, the message was clearly targeted at the United States.
Clinton also reaffirmed the importance of the six-party talks, reconfirming the U.S. intention to resolve the crisis through dialogue. In other words, both the North and the United States each made the strongest demands then made it clear they will resolve the issues through talks and negotiation. Now, the curtain for the stage of negotiation is about to go up.
It is the basics of a negotiation to make a clear demand to the opposite side what it must do.
It is also the basics of a negotiation to accomplish the demand through dialogue.
Subduing the opponent through force and pressure makes negotiation superfluous.
Fortunately, North Korea and the United States have each presented their demands, but they confirmed that they will accomplish their goals through six-party talks.
For now, the starting line to begin U.S.-North negotiations is correctly drawn.
The problem is that resolving the nuclear crisis through a negotiation is never easy.
Right now, the six-party talks have stalled due to the verification issue of the North’s nuclear disablement. And that issue appears to be a tough one for both Washington and Pyongyang to resolve.
Of course, the current situation appears to be better than in the past when the Bush administration’s hard-line North Korea policy and demands for Pyongyang to give up its nuclear programs prior to talks conflicted with the North’s declaration that it had nuclear weapons and had tested one.
The Obama administration has said it wants to resolve the issue through strong and direct diplomacy - bilateral negotiation and senior-level talks - but the outcome is dependent upon Pyongyang’s cooperation.
North Korea also expressed what it wants from the Obama administration, but it may go back to its brinkmanship if the situation does not go as it desires.
It is fortunate that the North and the United States agreed to resolve the nuclear issue through negotiation, but they need to agree on an additional principle in order to smoothly move forward. That is to say, they should go back to the Joint Statement of Sept. 19, 2005.
In fact, how to resolve the crisis was specifically spelled out in that statement.
The North agreed to abolish all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs.
The United States agreed to normalize its relations with the North and to provide a security guarantee to the North Korean regime.
Under the principle of action-for-action, what each side must do for every step has been specified in the statement.
The U.S. concerns that North Korea will not give up its nuclear programs, or the North’s concerns that the U.S. will not give up its hostile policies are for naught.
They already covered that territory in the Sept. 19 Joint Statement.
And they must never forget that the process of reaching that agreement was a product of compromise and mutual respect.
The nuclear crisis has already found a model answer.
That is why the content and spirit of the statement must be used as the standard for the future negotiations between the United States and North Korea.
*The writer is a professor of politics at Kyungnam University.
by Kim Keun-sik
More in Columns
A cautionary tale
A government in disarray
China’s thin skin
The Korean War from China’s view
Who’s laughing now?