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[Editorial] "Stop Exaggerating “Baseless Suspicions on S. Korea’s Nuclear Activities"

[Editorial] "Stop Exaggerating “Baseless Suspicions on S. Korea’s Nuclear Activities"

Posted September. 19, 2004 22:05,   


The ministers of unification, foreign affairs and science declared in a joint announcement last week, “Our government doesn’t have any intention to develop nuclear weapons or to possess these weapons.” This action is reconfirming our promise in 1991 for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and it is an appropriate response to the current situation, in which trivial “nuclear activities in the past” have been magnified into a pretext for inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

There will be no better way for our government to erase these suspicions than by pledging peaceful use of nuclear materials and actively cooperating with the IAEA inspection. We hope that such an effort toward the transparency of nuclear material possession in the global society is appropriately appreciated, and that we will be free from suspicion as soon as possible.

This situation we are facing now, despite our government’s explanation and cooperation, is mostly a result of “suspicion inflation” by the foreign press. Foreign media have reported their doubts about our peaceful nuclear activities: they reported stories with incorrect facts, with headlines such as “Enriched uranium in weapons-grade high density” and “A danger to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.” They should be shamed of their baseless reports and suspicions and restrain themselves in the future. They should respect our government’s promise to “cooperate with IAEA inspection and to take appropriate measures according to the inspection results” and watch the outcome.

In particular, it is hard to understand why the Japanese government and press, whose country has been doing plutonium reprocessing as well as uranium enrichment, is responding hyper-sensitively to our uranium 0.2g separation test and 80mg plutonium extraction. Does this mean Korea is not allowed to enrich uranium even for industrial purposes? It is regretful that a country that is in fact very close to joining the nuclear-armed nations appears not to acknowledge its ally’s explanation.

As foreign governments and press inflate suspicions, even North Korea joined them and is now throwing cold water, saying it would not agree to the six-party meeting until the suspicions regarding South Korea’s nuclear development is resolved. In order to avoid the mistake of treating North Korea’s military nuclear development and South Korea’s peaceful nuclear activities as the same thing, foreign governments and press will have to pass fair judgment on our sincere and appropriate effort to resolve their suspicions.