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The North Korean Nuclear Issue: “[A Year] is a Long Wait”

The North Korean Nuclear Issue: “[A Year] is a Long Wait”

Posted March. 25, 2005 23:26,   


Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Ban Ki-moon spoke of the timing of North Korea’s return to the six-party talks Friday, saying that “when you think about it, in June, a whole year will have passed since the third round of six-party talks. One year: that’s a long wait.”

Minister Ban made the remark at a lecture given before the Korea Regional Policy Institute at the Hyatt Hotel in Seoul on Friday morning and added, “U.S. President George W. Bush said he has not set up a deadline for the resumption of the talks, and neither have we.”

The minister appeared to be saying that although neither Korea nor the U.S. has set a deadline for the resumption of the six-nation talks, they have tacitly agreed on an unofficial, preliminary deadline of this June. Therefore, if North Korea does not show any signs of returning to the talks by then, there is a high possibility the North will be put under heavier pressure, such as referring the North Korean nuclear issue to the United Nations Security Council.

Akitaka Saiki, the Deputy Director General of the Japanese Foreign Ministry`s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, has also recently proposed referring the issue to the Security Council sometime after late June.

Minister Ban also said during the lecture that “I do not think that the North has entirely shut its doors to dialogue. However, North Korea is taking a self-contradictory stance of advocating the opening of its doors and at the same time insisting on maintaining its system. This mars both the door opening and reform and the resolution of the nuclear issue.”

In addition, commenting on the state of Korea-Japan relations, Minister Ban said, “We would like to go on with the summit meeting scheduled for the first half of this year, and we will also leave all diplomatic channels open. The North Korean nuclear issue is not a matter of Korea and Japan. Japan understands the influence the nuclear issue will have on Japan if we don’t find a solution to this issue. Therefore, cooperation between Korea and Japan on this matter will not be a problem.”

Jong-Koo Yoon jkmas@donga.com