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North Policy Hinges on Missile Launch

Posted June. 15, 2006 03:48,   


The government has decided to fully reconsider its North Korean policy such as controlling the overall progress in inter-Korean relations, which includes the three economic cooperation projects with North Korea, if North Korea test fires a Taepodong-2 missile or a modified version. In particular, if North Korea launches the missile, and the U.S. pressures North Korea further, the government is concerned about the possibility of semi-military tension rising with North Korean vessels being searched and seized as well as the initiation of a naval blockade, and is seeking measures to deal with such issues.

With domestic and international concerns rising about the possibility of North Korea’s missile launch, it was confirmed on June 14 that the government reached such decision through consultations with related ministries. The three on-going inter-Korean economic cooperation projects are Gaesong Industrial Complex, linking of the South-North railways, and the Mt. Geumgang tourism business.

If North Korea goes ahead with the missile launch, the six-party talks framework to solve the North Korean nuclear issue will collapse and other means might be pursued to solve the nuclear issue, hence the Korean government set an internal guideline that it will clearly oppose the use of military action against North Korea, in order to lower military tension.

At a press briefing held on June 14, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ban Ki-moon stated, “In a situation in which the international community has negative opinions about the validity of the six-party talks, if North Korea launches a missile, it is very likely that it will bring significant negative impact in solving the North Korean nuclear issue.”

A government official said, “If North Korea launches a Taepodong-2 missile, public opinion will worsen and demands to reconsider North Korean policy, such as halting fertilizer shipments and cooperative economic projects, will increase. In particular, American pressure will increase regarding the Gaesong Industrial Complex issue.”

This official also predicted, “With hardliners becoming more influential in the U.S., there is a high possibility of the U.S. seeking a regime transformation in North Korea. The U.S. will probably submit the missile launch issue to the UN Security Council and use the G-8 summit meeting to increase its pressure on North Korea.”

U.S. Ambassador to Korea Alexander Vershbow appeared on a KBS1 Radio show yesterday and said, “We want them to understand that a test in the light of other problems that we have in our relationship with North Korea would be viewed as a very serious matter,” and added, “We would take the appropriate measures in response.”

Myoung-Gun Lee gun43@donga.com taewon_ha@donga.com