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Korea, U.S. Split on Blockade Plan

Posted November. 15, 2006 03:03,   


“It corresponds with the managerial principles of Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) to participate in the PSI selectively except in the surrounding waters of the Korean peninsula,” said Park In-kook, director of Policy Planning in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“Korea is determined not to participate in the PSI officially at present, and we respect this decision. If Korea changes its mind to declare official participation one day, we will be very happy,” said State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack.

A tug-of-war between Korea and the U.S. on the PSI after North Korea’s nuclear test was concluded by Korea’s announcement of non-involvement on November 13. However, since Korea turned down America’s countless efforts to persuade Korea to join the PSI as a way of sanctioning North Korea, some people are worried that the psychological distance between Korea and the U.S. will continue to be wide regarding North Korea’s nuclear problems.

The U.S. is disappointed in Korea’s decision-

There have been differences of opinion between Korea and the U.S. several times since the U.S. officially asked Korea to get involved in the PSI in 2003. But it is said that this decision was made in a different situation from that of January, in which Korea said it would participate in the PSI only as a witness after a long debate.

The U.S. revealed its disappointment in Korea’s position that was stated as, “We will not join the PSI regarding goods moved inside of the area, and will decide to support goods outside of the area with situational consideration.”

It is known that the U.S. was informed of Korea’s policy of “official non-involvement and substantial participation,” until the end of October, and expected that Korea would expand its participation toward supporting the interdiction of goods in and out of its local area, which are the 6th and 7th stipulations of the PSI.

Larry Niksch, a specialist in Asian Affairs with the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, said in an interview with Voice of America on November 14, “The Korean government’s decision is a serious policy to make both countries’ opinions differ more, which are already showing great differences on policies toward North Korea.” Don Oberdorfer, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, also said, “It gives the impression that Korea does not regard this case as seriously as the U.S..”

Pros and cons of the six-way talks-

The Korean government seems to think that its official joining the PSI will become an obstacle to the six-way talks.

If the South joins the PSI at the cost of North Korea’s resistance when the North announced its return to the six-way talks, it may harm the atmosphere of conversation.

However, there are concerns that non-participation in the PSI will weaken Korea’s position in the six-way talks. Some say that it will not be easy to resolve North Korea’s nuclear problems though the six-way talks, including the possibility that the talks will become disarmament negotiations as North Korea becomes further associated with the world’s nuclear “haves.” Under these circumstances, it may not be appropriate to reveal the differences of opinion between Korea and the U.S. In addition, it is said that the announcement of non-involvement in the PSI may be equal to Korea giving up its role as a lever for North Korea.

“The more a country makes North Korea uncomfortable with having nuclear weapons, the more it can ask for in the six-way talks,” a government figure said. “But Korea is going backwards.”