Pyongyang’s wrong turnNorth Korea has declared its status as a nuclear weapons state in its Constitution. That translates into a brazen nullification of the grand principle of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. However, the brazen move will only backfire because the recalcitrant regime took a wrong turn: from a prosperous path of opening and reform to a narrow path of isolation. Experts are raising a call for a colossal review of the nuclear issue.
The preface of North Korea’s Constitution - which was amended on April 13 shortly after the fledgling Kim Jong-un regime began - first enumerates Kim Jong-il’s accomplishments and declares that he changed “our fatherland into a politically and ideologically strong nation and an invincible state with nuclear power.” It is the first time that Pyongyang inserted the term “nuclear power” in its constitution since 1945 after six rounds of amendments. No doubt the move is aimed at getting international recognition for its nuclear power status by shifting the six-party talks to nuclear reduction talks in an attempt to build pressure on the United Sates to change its course on the Korean Peninsula.
Under the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime, only five countries - America, Russia, China, the U.K. and France - are recognized as nuclear powers, while India, Pakistan and Israel are recognized as “de facto nuclear powers” outside the NPT. North Korea hopes to follow their lead. But that’s just a daydream. The U.S. State Department stated it has maintained the position not to accept the North’s nuclear status for a long time, adding that Pyongyang must observe the Joint Statement it signed in Beijing on September 19, 2005. If nuclear possession were allowed in Pyongyang, a domino effect would sweep across South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.
The declaration of nuclear status in the Constitution has also made the 1992 Joint Declaration on Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula obsolete. Now that the dimmest glimmer of hope for denuclearization has vanished, we are faced with the grim reality that we live under a palpable nuclear threat from the North, which invites the argument for us to develop nuclear armaments or to allow U.S. tactical nuclear weapons into the country. In an even more extreme case, it invites the argument for regime change in the North.
Pyongyang is howling like a lonely wolf. The international community should persuade it to give up its nuclear dream through dialogue and pressure. China is critical and it must cooperate with the U.S. on the issue.