Go to contents

North Signals Return to 6-Party Talks

Posted August. 28, 2006 07:26,   


Just 40 days after denouncing the UN Security Council Resolution on North Korea on July 16, the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated its stance on the international community including the United States.

The ministry announced on August 26 its intentions to “return to the six-party talks as there is more to gain from the talks,” while denouncing the United States, which intensified its financial sanctions against the state, as the reason the six party talks failed.

More to gain from the six-party talks?-

The spokesperson of the DPRK Ministry of Foreign affairs noted the joint statement of September 19 after the fourth round of six-party talks last year when emphasizing, “We would like to proceed with the talks as we would gain more from consensus in this matter.”

Though it is not the first time North Korea has stated that it does not oppose the six party talks since the first round in August 2003, it has never directly expressed its intention to carry on with the talks by stating, “there is much to gain.”

The Joint Statement shows that North Korea has much to gain. Should North Korea give up its nuclear weapons and all the existing nuclear programs, the six-party participants would facilitate economic cooperation and energy aid, while the U.S. has pledged a non-aggression pact with North Korea, ultimately leading to the normalization of relations between the two countries. South Korea will supply 2.0 million kW of electricity through direct transmission.

The Joint Statement also allows North Korea to use nuclear energy for peaceful means while also considering the offering of light water reactors. Because the stance that returning to the six-party talks will benefit North Korea has been used by the South Korean and American governments to bring North Korea to the table, the current address is notable.

Christopher Hill, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and US head representative of the six-party talks, stated in May, “When the joint statement goes into effect, the weekly energy aid to North Korea alone will equal the 2.0 million dollars frozen in the Banco Delta Asia (BDA) account,” and encouraged North Korea to return to the talks.

All countermeasures?-

The North Korean threat to pursue all countermeasures to protect ideology, policy, sovereignty and dignity is a common phrase, and specific points on the countermeasures were not detailed. Yet the address was significant in the face of recent developments of nuclear tests in North Korea’s Gilju-gun of the North Hamgyeong province.

With the launch of the George W. Bush administration in 2001, the nuclear cards used against the U.S. demanding economic aid and normalization of relations have mostly been depleted, and Kim Jong Il is driven to his final card of nuclear tests. North Korea adopted a belligerent attitude with its multiple missile launches on July 5, but the U.S. only intensified its level of pressure.

But analysts state that considering the threat of nuclear tests to be used to gain the upper hand in negotiations with the U.S., North Korea is unlikely to launch into nuclear testing at least in the next few weeks.

Dongguk University professor of North Korean studies Ko Yoo-whan said, “North Korea will not easily pursue nuclear tests, which it perceives to be a definite red line and a last resort,” and added “it should consider the costs of the failure of nuclear tests.”

Why now?-

The U.S. strategy against North Korea’s brinksmanship of missile launches involves a hard line stance. Though two months have passed since the missile launches, the U.S. has heightened its level of pressure by announcing its intentions to limit both legal and illegal North Korean bank transactions based on the UN Security Council resolution.

After the visit of Stuart Levey, U.S. Department of the Treasury’s undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI) to Vietnam and Mongolia, the banks of these countries are closing the accounts of North Korean businesses.

A government official stated, “The North Korean address reflects a feeling of crisis resulting from the financial sanctions,” and “It seems to be a sign calling for South Korea to create an environment for North Korean to return to the six-party talks during the South Korea-U.S. summit on September 14 to save its face.”