Go to contents

[Editorial] Powell`s Proposal Raises Expectation

Posted August. 08, 2003 21:53,   


US Secretary of State Collin Powell suggested on August 7 a “written form of security guarantee to North Korea with the approval of the US Congress” as a solution to the nuclear standoff between the US and North Korea. The US Secretary of State`s proposal came at a time when countries involved are preparing for six-way talks on the North`s nuclear issue, which is expected to be held at the end of this month or early next month. Against this backdrop, his proposal is drawing a keen attention from the international community. A day before the announcement, Collin Powel visited US President George Bush, who is on a summer vacation on his ranch in Texas, to discuss strategies for the envisaged multilateral nuclear talks. Therefore, it is possible to say that Collin Powell’s presented idea can be interpreted as the US President and his government’s position.

Although Powell`s proposal fell short of meeting the North demand for signing a non-aggression pact, a written security guarantee for North Korea will have the same force as a non-aggression pact if the US Congress approves the agreement. If the North`s assertion that it will abandon its nuclear ambitions in return for its regime`s security guarantee were not be a lie, Pyongyang should sincerely consider the US proposal. If the North continues to demand a non-aggression pact with the US as only a viable solution to the nuclear standoff, it will be difficult to clear up the international community`s suspicions that the North has an intention of becoming a nuclear state. For the sake of its own, the North should take a positive aspect of Collin Powell`s message and make a sincere effort not to further aggravate the situation.

Pyongyang should take note of a shift in the US government`s position. The US government had insisted that North Korea abandon its nuclear development programs first without any compensation. The shifted US attitude toward the North reflects general opinions of the international community that the North will be provided with enormous economic assistance, not to mention stability of its regime, if it gives up its nuclear ambitions. North Korea should bear in mind that its future depends on its decision on whether to give up its nuclear programs and that it will be a right path for the North to take in an effort to solve the nuclear standoff peacefully in collaboration with the international community.

In addition, Collin Powell presented a proposal that the US will offer a joint security guarantee to North Korea along with concerned parties who will participate in six-way talks. His proposal has a significant meaning in that it will complement drawbacks that the almost doomed Geneva agreement has revealed. The agreement signed between the US and North Korea successfully defused the mounting nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsular in 1994. It will be desirable that the six nations, participants of suggested multilateral nuclear talks involving North and South Korea, the US, Japan, China, and Russia, assume their own responsibilities. In case that North Korea and the US dominate the nuclear talks, while other our nations taking back seats, there will be unbearable conflicts among participants.

Particularly, South Korea should take the initiative in nuclear talks as a nation that has a direct interest in solving the nuclear standoff. Therefore, the government needs to have a close consultation with the US that is working on strategies for nuclear talks to make a unified voice with the US. We hope that the government will use working-level talks with the US and Japan slated for next week as an opportunity to strengthen close trilateral cooperation.