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Moon should rewrite his ‘Berlin Declaration’

Posted July. 06, 2017 07:12,   

Updated July. 06, 2017 07:22


Before departing for Germany on Wednesday for an official visit and a Group of 20 summit, President Moon Jae-in said that the Korean Peninsula is “in a precarious crisis situation” following North Korea’s latest launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). He also supported the South Korea-U.S. joint missile muscle-flexing, saying that the North Korean launch was not an issue to respond to only with a statement, suggesting that he was determined to show action against Pyongyang’s crossing the red line. In a related move, the South Korean military released a computer-animated video showing its high-profile missiles that can be used for possible operations to “decapitate” the North Korean leadership.

On Wednesday, North Korea reaffirmed that it would never abandon its nuclear and missile program, claiming that it was capable of mounting a nuclear warhead on the ICBM dubbed “Hwasong-14” and proved its atmosphere re-entry technology. The United States also officially confirmed the North’s launch of an ICBM, vowing to use “the full range of capabilities at our disposal against the growing threat.” Considering the mounting hardline opinions against provocation in the United States, there is a high chance that calls for a pre-emptive strike against the North will re-emerge. As was the case in October 2006 when Washington and Pyongyang made rapid progress in their negotiations following the North’s first nuclear test, however, the possibility cannot be ruled out that Pyongyang escalates tension to a peak, prompting the Trump administration to make an about-face in its approach to the North.

The G20 summit, which will be attended by President Moon, will likely be a venue for denouncing North Korea. China and Russia, which have been sympathetic to the North, would not exceptions. Nevertheless, Beijing and Moscow still insist on resolving the situation through dialogue. In his first summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Moon has to win Beijing’s cooperation on the issue. Just as U.S. President Donald Trump stressed China’s role, Moon has to persuade Xi to take stern actions on Pyongyang.

What attracts attention is President Moon’s planned speech at the Koerber Foundation in Berlin. Just as former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung made the “Berlin Declaration” in his speech at Free University of Berlin in March 2000, Moon’s upcoming speech is expected to make a “New Berlin Declaration.” Kim’s speech calling for an exchange of special envoys to discuss inter-Korean economic cooperation, an end to the “cold war” on the Korean Peninsula, the establishment of peace, and the resolution of the issue of separated families led to the historic June 15, 2000 inter-Korean summit. It is true that President Moon has expected his speech to lay a “red carpet” for the third inter-Korean summit.

However, North Korea’s ICBM provocation has dashed such a hope for improved relations between the two Koreas. President Moon is said to be planning to make a drastic revision of his speech script to reflect the new developments. However, the situation calls for more than just a revision. He needs to overhaul the basic framework of his speech to include its resolute determination to thoroughly isolate North Korea and prevent any armed provocation by taking the initiatives in international cooperation against Pyongyang’s reckless provocation. We cannot shut the door to dialogue, but now is not the time to take appeasement measures.