Ball is in North Korea’s court

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Ball is in North Korea’s court

The government’s “New Peace Initiative for the Korean Peninsula,” outlined in a weekend address by President Lee Myung-bak on the 64th anniversary of national liberation, offers up methods for guaranteeing North Korea’s existence and prosperity.

In particular, it presents detailed steps for cooperation, such as holding high-level talks for the realization of South-North economic ties and implementing new development projects.

Lee also proposed that the two sides talk about reducing conventional weapons. If the North shows a willingness to discard its nuclear weapons program, the president insinuated, the South would cooperate in various areas, including politics, economic issues and military affairs.

The North, eager to obtain assistance, has threatened the international community by building up its nuclear and missile programs. Its economic development strategy relies on the concept of rehabilitation on its own strength. However, the development of its nuclear weapons program over the past two decades hasn’t succeeded in propping up the country. One need look no further than the food crisis in the mid-1990s, when hundreds of thousands of people died. The North still faces serious food issues, particularly in the area of distribution.

In conclusion, unless North Korea backs off from its confrontational attitude against the international community, the country is headed for catastrophic defeat.

In this vein, President Lee’s stated hope that “the North and South will have a candid and frank dialogue about what it will take for North Korea to give up nuclear weapons” attracts our attention.

The United States has proposed a comprehensive package guaranteeing the existence of the North Korean regime and promising extensive economic assistance on the condition that the North abandons its nuclear weapons program. This is a rare opportunity for Pyongyang.

North Korea is hoping to hold talks with the U.S. via various channels after freeing two American journalists and an employee held in the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

But the North, for its own sake, should come out with a strong and clear message that it will discard its nuclear weapons program and return to the six-party talks.

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