Chun argues for tough sanctions against North
“If North Korea doesn’t abandon its nuclear weapons, we need to impose sanctions tough enough to topple the regime. Making Kim Jong-un choose between a nuclear bomb and his country is the only way for denuclearization through dialogue.”
Chun Yung-woo, 61, former presidential secretary for foreign affairs and national security, had his first interview with local media, the JoongAng Ilbo, on Wednesday, after his retirement.
During his past two-year, four-month term, he dealt with intense military tensions with North Korea - the artillery shelling on Yeonpyeong Island, the long-range rocket launches and the third nuclear weapons test.
Asked about the level of North Korea’s current nuclear capabilities, Chun said, “There’s no country in the world that succeeded [in producing nuclear weapons] with just three tests. They would need additional tests to reach the level of producing nuclear weapons.
“Besides improving nuclear technology, they’d rather obtained a more important purpose, which is making the world believe North Korea indeed possesses a nuclear bomb.”
With regard to voices advocating South Korea should also develop a nuclear weapon, Chun said, “Politicians can speak out like that, but if we indeed become nuclear-armed, it would trigger anti-U.S. protests. We need sufficient military preparations with the assumption that Pyongyang is already equipped with a nuclear weapon.”
Q. Seoul has failed to prevent further military provocation with the third nuclear test. What does this mean for Korea?
A. Most of all, it is North Korea who should take responsibility for the test. But it is true that Seoul, Washington and Beijing didn’t maximize their efforts to change Pyongyang’s thoughts and actions. The three countries have a lot of policies to resolve the matter of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, but they were lacking in their political willingness to use the policies properly.
What caused the failure in preventing North Korea’s nuclear test?
China focused only on survival of the North Korean regime, rather than its denuclearization. The United States simply denounced North Korea, while they took out much stronger sanctions against Iran, which hasn’t yet carried out a nuclear test. South Korea made a mistake in providing aid to Pyongyang for the 10 years of the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations, although Pyongyang didn’t stop its nuclear programs. That aid helped Pyongyang to boost its nuclear capabilities.
Although we have imposed economic sanctions, the effect was diluted by Beijing, which let North Korea to keep trading behind the scenes. What’s your take on that?
We should make China feel disadvantaged due to North Korea’s nuclear test by forging a firm alliance among Seoul, Washington and Tokyo.
We should prevent China from diluting the sanctions.
Despite the death of late leader Kim Jong-il, there was no political and social turmoil in the regime. What do you attribute to that?
Former leader Kim Jong-il could have died earlier due to heavy stress by the Lee Myung-bak administration’s strong sanctions.
Although there has been no drastic change in the regime for the past five years, we think we have planted seeds of optimistic change in the North, and the strength of that energy will grow from now on.
Do you think Kim Jong-un’s regime has settled down?
His so-called “economy-first policy” was just a measure to improve the economy, not a fundamental reform. The economic troubles in North Korea are deepening and there is a widespread perception among people that the self-reliance ideology [or juche ideology] can’t improve their livelihood. As a result, Kim is losing the public trust.
Why wasn’t there an inter-Korean summit during the Lee administration?
The biggest achievement of the Lee Myung-bak president’s policies in North Korean affairs was that he overcame the temptation to resume a summit with North Korea.
Previously, Kim Jong-il believed that he can control South Korea any way he wants, using inter-Korean talks as a bargaining chip. But Lee showed him that wasn’t the case.
In 2009, North Korea reportedly demanded assistance worth about $500-600 million. Is that correct?
There were enormous demands besides the $500 million, such as food and fertilizer. But I can’t divulge details on the negotiation yet.
Have Seoul and Beijing grown close to each other enough to talk about the unification of two Koreas?
It used to be taboo between the two countries to talk about the fate of North Korea at a Korea-China summit. But that era has passed.
By Chang Se-jeong [firstname.lastname@example.org]