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[Editorial] Perspective on President Roh’s Speech on N. Korea’s Nuclear Program

[Editorial] Perspective on President Roh’s Speech on N. Korea’s Nuclear Program

Posted November. 14, 2004 23:22,   


President Roh Moo-hyun made clear his position against acts of force and isolation policies towards North Korea, saying the North Korean nuclear problem must be solved in a peaceful way. I agree with President Roh’s stand of “We built the Korea of today from ashes; we cannot be forced to go through the dangers of war again.” His comment, “By no means will we tolerate North Korea’s nuclear possession,” was also appropriate.

However, I cannot but point out the fact that President Roh made a comment that would have been better not spoken. President Roh made the controversial speech on U.S. ground at a time when Korean-US summit talks with President George W. Bush are coming up on November 20, and Bush’s second term is set to take off next January. Even the United States and North Korea would have kept an eye on the speech. President Roh probably considered the time and his counterpart when he was giving his speech, but unfortunately he seems to have defended North Korea a little too much.

On North Korea’s claim that “nuclear weapons and missiles are measures to protect oneself from danger,” President Roh said, “It makes sense.” At first he said “reasonable,” but later changed his expression. Reasonable or not, President Roh’s comment was inappropriate. Making comments that imply recognition of North Korea’s nuclear development when North Korea has broken the declaration of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula is contradictory. This is also in conflict with the comment that he would not tolerate North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons. It is doubtful whether the United States and even Japan, which sees even North Korean missiles to be a huge threat, will sympathize with President Roh’s words.

We cannot blame only North Korea on the ineffectiveness of the six-way talks. We should also persuade the United States. If America’s “Neo-cons” press for a military solution even when there is the possibility of a peaceful solution, the government and the people will have to come together in order to prevent it. Even we are against the United States’ one-sided pushes.

However, it is hard to understand that we are telling the United States to do this or that when we are not making any demands to North Korea that interfere even in minor South Korean nuclear experiments. As much as we are trying to persuade the United States, we should also make efforts to persuade North Korea.