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[Editorial] Nuclear Crisis Won’t Be Solved Without Consensus with America

[Editorial] Nuclear Crisis Won’t Be Solved Without Consensus with America

Posted August. 12, 2005 03:04,   


Unification Minister of Korea Chung Dong-young said in an interview yesterday, “North Korea should be allowed to have the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy,” adding, “In this regard, we have a different idea from the U.S.” His statements raise concern as it demonstrates a lack of consensus and cooperation between South Korea and the U.S. It is clear that the U.S. is adamant on the issue of peaceful nuclear program by Pyongyang, as president George W. Bush himself declared his position against it.

At this rate, no conclusion could be drawn at the fourth round of six-party talks that will be resumed at the end of this month. With South Korea taking its side instead of Washington, North Korea is unlikely to renounce its demand for a peaceful nuclear program. The U.S. argues that North Korea can be allowed to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes once it returns to Non Proliferation Treaty and implements security measures. It is not unreasonable. If North Korea indeed has no ambition for atomic bombs, there is no reason not to accept this offer, as the other five participants of the six-party talks will guarantee its fulfillment. South Korea should persuade North Korea on this principle.

In this regard, it was not discreet for the top unification official to make a comment that sounds like “North Korea’s argument makes sense, and it is the U.S. that is making the negotiation difficult.” Mr. Chung’s remark also signals that South Korea went to the negotiating table without any prior consultation with the U.S. That is why South Korea has failed to draw up a joint statement, even after it tried using an unfamiliar concept of “creative ambiguity,” so that both North Korea and the U.S. could understand the phrasing to their benefit.

Most experts anticipated before the fourth round of six-party talks that North Korea would separate the issue of a nuclear arsenal and the issue of civilian use of nuclear energy. South Korea should have talked with the U.S. on this, so that it wouldn’t have been criticized on its lack of strategy. The South Korean government should begin finding common solutions to the situation with the U.S., albeit late. Without a breakthrough to this major bottleneck, his comments on the talks just sound like one blowing one’s own trumpet.