Go to contents

Roh Toughens up on North Korea`s Nuclear Ambitions

Posted May. 18, 2003 22:07,   


President Roh Moo-hyun said that “Seoul would not be pushed around by North Korea,” signaling a toughening stance towards the communist neighbor and its nuclear weapons program, according to the Financial Times of Britain on May 17.

Mr. Roh secured Mr. Bush`s commitment to a "peaceful" solution, but the joint-statement after the summit meeting left open the possibility that Seoul might back sanctions against North Korea, whose economy is in shambles, the newspaper analyzed.

“Any move by South Korea to apply economic pressure on the North would mark a historic shift away from former president Kim Dae-jung`s Nobel Peace prize-winning “sunshine” policy of engagement with Pyongyang,” said the Financial Times. Mr. Roh had promised to continue the “sunshine” policy following his election last December but South Koreans have become frustrated with Pyongyang`s failure to respond to Seoul`s friendship and economic support, it added.

The British newspaper on Friday, reported that South Korea`s foreign ministry said it was “not time” for sanctions, arguing that diplomacy had yet to run its course. But officials refused to rule out the option. In addition, “Mr. Roh`s visit to the U.S. appeared to narrow differences between Seoul and Washington about policy towards North Korea. However, analysts cautioned that Mr. Roh`s tough language may have been directed at a U.S. audience. The test of its authenticity, they said, would be whether he repeated his words on Korean soil,” it said.

The paper analyzed that Mr. Roh`s warning on Wednesday that “future inter-Korean exchanges and co-operation will be conducted in light of developments on the North Korean nuclear issue,” implied that South Korea might sever cross-border ties if Pyongyang continued to develop weapons of mass destruction.