Peace and nukes don’t mixWith 14 days left before the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, North Korea’s women’s ice hockey players came to South Korea to train with local players. The team will almost certainly face many problems due to a critical lack of time needed to build teamwork. We hope players from both South and North Korea do their best.
Despite the Moon Jae-in administration’s reconciliatory gestures, however, the situation on the Korean Peninsula just gets more confused. The government wanted to take advantage of the Games to pave the way to dialogue and denuclearization of the rogue state. To achieve that goal, the government has been extra careful not to do anything that gets in the way of dialogue. But that triggered controversy over a submissive attitude toward North Korea.
North Korea is eager to use the Olympic Games as an opportunity to show off its self-proclaimed status as a nuclear weapons state. The country held a tripartite meeting Wednesday among its government, Workers’ Party and civic groups and championed its nuclear armaments. They sang from the same hymn book about nuclear weapons being needed to protect the Korean people against the United States and to counter “all types of sophistry aimed at branding our nuclear swords as an obstacle to improving inter-Korean relations.” That translates into a declaration that North Korea’s nuclear weapon program cannot be a subject for negotiation. Furthermore, North Korea is trying to show the rest of the world that the two Koreas can join hands to peacefully stage an Olympics even while Pyongyang has nuclear weapons. That reflects the North’s insistence that peace can still be maintained even if it retains nuclear weapons.
North Korea may be preparing for a large military parade in Pyongyang on the eve of the opening ceremony of the Olympics. That’s what forced U.S. Vice President Mike Pence to link the parade to “Kim Jong-un’s effort to hijack the games with a propaganda campaign.”
The United States is tightening its sanctions on the regime in Pyongyang as evidenced by its decision Wednesday to impose additional sanctions on individuals and state agencies of North Korea and China. The Trump administration believes that only strong pressure on North Korea can change the regime. Dialogue is good, but it must be accompanied by resolute sanctions. Peace is impossible with nuclear weapons in the North.
JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 26, Page 30