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[Editorial] Roh Administration Falling in Line, or Out?

Posted June. 08, 2003 21:52,   


The two leaders of South Korea and Japan had summit talks a couple of days ago. They both issued joint statements. But the statement seems like a compromise covering up the delicate differences between the two leaders over North Korea`s nuclear ambitions. President Roh and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi stated, "We will not tolerate not only North Korea`s nuclear armament, but also any nuclear development program." President Roh, however, still seemed to favor the Sunshine policy type of approach, while Japan seemed to recognize the need to sanction the isolated regime in Pyongyang.

Over the nuclear crisis triggered by the Kim Jong-il regime, Seoul and Washington agreed on the need for additional steps to be taken. On the other hand, the approach agreed upon by President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi seems to have taken a tougher position, necessitating tougher measures. The two agreements have one thing in common: if North Korea fails to give up its nuclear ambitions, the three countries would cease to have dialogue.

President Roh publicly said again yesterday however, that "no additional steps or tougher measures are necessary." We wonder on what grounds President Roh came up with this idea.

President Roh and his administration have consistently enforced the Kim Dae-jung legacy: stressing only dialogue with the rogue state. Roh`s emphasis, however, distances our allies like the United States and Japan, and weakens whatever alliance they think they might have. One month has not even passed since President Bush met with his Korean counterpart. Politicians in Washington are heard to be complaining about the Roh administration and its inconsistent position on the Kim Jong-il regime. According to sources, the Roh administration has ignored or turned a blind eye on major pieces of intelligence on North Korea`s nuclear development program. If this is true, it is a great threat to our national security. We are confused. How could the Roh administration dare say it could resolve the nuclear crisis, acting this weirdly?

We could not deny the need for maintaining a dialogue with North Korea. But it is not right for the Roh administration to stick to one option, ignoring all the other options it could exercise. It`s not right even in terms of strategy. Contrary to the Roh administration`s belief, "whip" is the most effective and important means of forcing the rogue state in North to give up its nuclear ambition. Option polls conducted in commemoration of President Roh`s 100th day in office showed that South Koreans gave high marks to his conduct in the United States. It indicates that South Koreans understand the need to undermine the regime to resolve the crisis.

The Roh administration should make clear where it stands as to North Korea`s nuclear development program. It should abandon its hypocritical approach to the issue. It already has agreed to additional steps taken with the United States, while stressing the need for dialogue with Japan. It will only hurt our national interest and increase diplomatic conflicts with our allies.