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[Editorial] A Welcome End to the Fourth Round of Six-Party Talks

[Editorial] A Welcome End to the Fourth Round of Six-Party Talks

Posted September. 20, 2005 06:42,   


The six-party talks to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis have finally concluded, ending a 35-month journey that began in August 2003. The six participants of the talks, the U.S., Russia, China, Japan and the two Koreas, announced yesterday in Beijing a joint statement reconfirming the principle of nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and pledging the setup of a discussion forum for peace-building activities on the Korean Peninsula. Eclipsing 1994 Geneva Agreement, the historic statement is a new landmark in the peace and security of the region

We wholeheartedly welcome the agreement in that it can free people of both Koreas from the fear of a disastrous nuclear war. We particularly appreciate the efforts of the South Korean government that played a major role during the talks. It provided momentum to the negotiation by offering electricity provisions to the North, and persuaded the U.S. to accept Pyongyang`s right to peaceful nuclear use..

The country that benefited most from the agreement is North Korea. It not only secured its right to civilian use of nuclear energy, but also achieved other long-standing wishes: America`s pledge not to invade or attack the country, a guarantee of the security of the regime, and the normalization of bilateral ties. There are also additional bonuses like the two million kilowatts of electricity from South Korea and energy aid from other participating countries, as well as possibly light water reactors when it returns to the Non Proliferation Treaty and complies with IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards.

Above all, however, the biggest gain for North Korea must be the fact that it is qualified to become a member of the international community as a "normal state." We now expect North Korea to comply with international standards and use common sense in dealing with its internal and external affairs. To this end, North Korea must prove its accountability and transparency. If it is uncooperative with the IAEA`s nuclear inspections while taking advantage of international aid, there is no way the South Korean government can persuade its public to bear a financial burden to provide North Korea with electricity, heavy oil or light water reactors. If it breaks the agreed framework like it did in 1993 and in 2003, the Beijing agreement will end in a scrap of paper like the Geneva Agreement, and the North Korean nuclear issue will lose the opportunity to seek peaceful resolution forever.

For these reasons, we will pay keen attention to the fifth round of the six party talks that will resume in November to further discuss the ways to put the agreed principles into practice.

Another achievement of the talks is the setup of a negotiating table to build permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula. However, North Korea has long argued for bilateral negotiations with the U.S. on this issue to replace the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War with a peace treaty. In the light of its past stance, possible discord may arise in who the negotiating parties should be. However, South Korea should not be excluded from the peace building negotiations on the Korean Peninsula.

Arms reduction will be the next vital issue for peace on the peninsula as the nuclear crisis is finally set to be settled. The two Koreas should seek ways to bring peace on the peninsula in close consultation. This is the only way to confirm sincerity between "the same people" as the North put it.

The joint declaration of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in 1992, the basis for the Beijing agreement yesterday, would have achieved substantial progress if the North had put effort into peaceful coexistence in a faithful manner. We hope North Korea can demonstrate its sincerity with actions so that the historic agreement yesterday can be a "roadmap toward hope" for peace on the Korean Peninsula.