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“Pyongyang Likely to Proceed with Nuclear Tests”

Posted May. 08, 2005 23:53,   


Han Seung-joo, the former ambassador to the U.S., said on May 7, “The recent behavior of North Korea is seemingly aimed at becoming a nuclear power rather than increasing its negotiating power or drawing attention from Washington, so it is likely to conduct nuclear tests.”

His remarks are noted as they are different from the official position of the South Korean government, which claims that “the purpose of the North’s provocative acts is to advantage itself in negotiations by attracting U.S. attention.” This interview with Dong-A Ilbo is the first time he expressed his own views to the press concerning the issue of North Korean nuclear weapons after he resigned from the post last February.

In regards with the effectiveness of the six-party talks, he said, “The six-way talks that involves many countries may diversify the responsibilities and burdens and strengthen the pressure on the North, but it makes the behind-the-scene talks unviable,” and added, “The six-party talks are certainly beneficial, but there are limitations to solely relying on that means.”

The former ambassador to Washington answered “extremely unlikely,” regarding the question of the likelihood of Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table. “North Korea thinks it was attacked by the U.S. because it did not possess nuclear weapons instead of the other way around,” he said, and added, “The U.S. is rather hampering even the smallest progress by trying to apply to the North the method of “first dismantle the nuclear weapons program” used previously to Libya.”

“The U.S. will not wait until next year to refer the North’s nuclear ambitions to the U.N. Security Council,” he noted, and stressed, “It is time for trusted top officials of the two South Korean and U.S. governments to discuss a joint strategy.”

Hyong-gwon Pu bookum90@donga.com