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[Editorial] Six Party Talks Are Make-or-Break Moments for Inter-Korean Relations.

[Editorial] Six Party Talks Are Make-or-Break Moments for Inter-Korean Relations.

Posted July. 25, 2005 03:04,   


The fourth round of the six party talks will kick off in Beijing, China tomorrow. The talks are expected to be make-or-break moments for inter-Korean relations. Rodong Shinmun, the North Korea’s official newspaper, said yesterday that at this meeting, the fate of inter-Korean relations will be decided and urged the U.S. “to show faithful and sincere attitudes.” But North Korea should realize that it is they who should show “faithful and sincere attitudes.”

The South Korean government put forward an important proposal aimed at offering electricity aid of 2 million kW in exchange for the North’s renunciation of nuclear weapons to ensure the success of the talks. It is a compromise between two different policies of the North and the U.S. which have kept the two parts away from each other. The U.S. has maintained a consistent policy that the North should give up its nuclear weapons before they are rewarded. In the meantime, the North has been arguing that freezing its nuclear programs and the U.S.’s provision of rewards should take place simultaneously. If the North refuses to accept the proposal made by the South, the possibility of a diplomatic resolution of the nuclear issue will be even more remote. The tension between the U.S. and the North will be alarmingly higher and exchanges between the two Koreas, which have recently gained momentum, will be hit hard.

The North has been demanding the South not to link inter-Korean relations with the nuclear issue. The underlying intension is that the North wants to get necessary aid from the South while negotiating its nuclear issue with the U.S. In line with this, the Chosun Shinbo, published by the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, or Chongnyon, said on July 22 that “the South’s proposal can’t be a motive for the North to give up its nuclear programs.” But the North doesn’t seem to understand what’s at stake. If the North refuses the proposal, the South can no longer justify its pursuit of inter-Korea economic cooperation.

The North should consider what disadvantages its decision will bring about if it chooses to stick to its nuclear program, jeopardizing inter-Korean relations. Its problems with shortages of electricity and food will linger on and the future of the Mount Baekdu and Gaesong tour projects will be uncertain. No one can be sure of the future of Gaesong Industrial Complex, either. The North Korean authorities reportedly directed its people to brace themselves for “marches of suffering” this year, but it is questionable whether that strategy will work again this time.

North Korea`s option is clear since it declared this time meeting would be the “final process” for the negotiation. If it renounces its nuclear program, it can clear the way for regime security and economic development. However, if it continues to make unreasonable demands such as arms reduction on the condition of its continued nuclear program, there is no guarantee for the North Korean future.