Don’t fall for North’s tricksThe North Korean nuclear issue is facing an important turning point. The United States is getting ready to offer an incentive to North Korea ahead of a bilateral meeting with the communist country, while China has dispatched a special envoy to Pyongyang in an attempt to coax the country into returning to the six-party talks. At the same time, Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, a senior figure in the Democratic Party, previously said that the new administration will take “a tough stance” with North Korea, emphasizing that talks with the country will come only after the regime launches an investigation into its abduction of Japanese people and freezes nuclear and missile tests. And Yu Myung-hwan, South Korean foreign minister, said on Friday, “I think resolving the nuclear issue should be prioritized before the inter-Korean issue.”
The U.S. and China seem to be reaching out, a different approach than the one Japan and South Korea are taking.
North Korea is trying to turn the tables in its favor by approaching South Korea and the United States in a friendly manner, taking advantage of its position after the release of two U.S. female journalists who were charged with trespassing. And the U.S. government is seemingly responding positively, signaling it wants to resolve the nuclear issue through dialogue now that it has discovered that sanctions alone won’t work. That is a so-called two-track strategy, which basically seems appropriate. But for the strategy to succeed, prudent execution is necessary. This, after all, is North Korea, a country that has successfully used skillful brinkmanship to get its way.
The first step for success is to stick to the framework of the six-party talks. Immediately after the announcement of UN sanctions, North Korea proclaimed that the six-party talks had “ended permanently.” North Korea, according to some observers, is attempting to induce the U.S. to withdraw its forces from South Korea by developing nuclear weapons. Resolving the nuclear issue is closely tied to the peace of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia in a broader sense.
The sanctions on the North should not be lifted until there is some real progress to report in terms of resolving the nuclear issue. In the past 20 years of negotiations with North Korea, the country has always demanded the lifting of sanctions as a prerequisite to beginning negotiations. Experts say that North Korea aims to catch up with India when it comes to the nuclear development race.
But North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons is a scary proposition for the world. It is a huge threat to this region and could trigger a nuclear domino effect across Northeast Asia.