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[Editorial] Should Perceive Limits to Taking a “Leading Role” in the North`s Nuclear Issue

[Editorial] Should Perceive Limits to Taking a “Leading Role” in the North`s Nuclear Issue

Posted December. 07, 2004 22:50,   


President Roh returns today. From last month’s APEC conference in Chile to this European tour, President Roh’s series of remarks concerning North Korea received more attention than those containing the original purposes. Among them, the day before yesterday’s comment stressing Korea’s “leading role” in resolving the North Korea nuclear issue – “if (we) have to turn red in the face with somebody, we have no choice but to do so” - was the definitive edition.

President’s Roh’s fundamental perception that the North Korea nuclear issue should be resolved peacefully through dialogue and negotiations is correct. His emphasis on Korea’s “leading role” is also understandable. Yet, President Roh’s remark made after visiting Los Angeles last month has some worrisome aspects.

First of all, it is necessary to inquire how far Korea can play a “leading role.” It is needless to reiterate the “principles” that the North Korea nuclear issue is an inter-Korean and international one, and that the U.S.’ role is decisively important. The problem is that the issue became a greater international one since the second nuclear crisis in October 2002. Under such circumstances, it is doubtful how much President Roh’s remarks will be “effective” as he consistently criticized the neo-cons (neo-conservative power), who dominates the foreign affairs and security issues in the U.S., and appeased Pyongyang. It is no wonder that some voice concerns over the weakening cooperation between Korea and the U.S.

There are detail problems, too. The “cost” Korea will have to pay for playing a “leading role” is such. So far in the six-party talks process, North Korea and the U.S. maintained their principles of “freeze and compensation” and “dismantlement first,” respectively. In order to take the “initiative” in tuning the arguments of both sides, Korea has no choice but to take a considerable part of the burden regarding Pyongyang’s demands. In this case, how will Korea extract a “national agreement” which will be demanded concerning the burden?

Taking a “leading role” is Korea’s ideal, but the limits in reality are also not ignorable. President Roh should perceive realistic limits he will face “after making remarks.”