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Hasty Celebration of Six-Party Talks Worries Critics

Posted February. 15, 2007 07:15,   


Misgivings among some nations about Tuesday’s signing of the six-party agreement, without a thorough inspection of how North Korea will conclude its nuclear weapons program, continue to run hot. There is now widespread concern that the government will hold inter-Korean ministry-level talks that will result in higher provisions for the North, without proper procedure.

While the government considers the outcome of this round of six-party talks as a success, and is hurrying to revive more dialogue with the North, other nations of the six-party talks, such as the U.S. and Japan, remain doubtful.

South and North Korea agreed to hold a preparatory meeting between representatives on Thursday in Gaesong, prior to the 20th ministry-level talks later this month. “We sent a request for a preparatory meeting on Monday, and received a positive response from the North on the following day,” said Unification Ministry Spokesman Yang Chang-seok on Wednesday. “The representatives will decide the topics for discussion during the ministry-level talks.”

The topics of discussion will most likely be rice and fertilizer support from the South, which was halted after the North’s missile tests last July. Flood damage support to the North and the test-run of the Gyeong`ui Line train will also be on the list.

The prospects of extensive support for the North, including 500,000 tons of rice and 300,000 tons of fertilizer, will be offered as an exchange for the North’s dedication to reuniting families that were separated by the Korean War many decades ago.

“Support for the North does not have to end with what was agreed upon during the six-party meetings,” said South Korea`s Vice Unification Minister, Shin Eon-sang, which led to widespread predictions that the government will promise support to the North, even if it fails to discontinue its nuclear weapons program.

Nevertheless, the government’s resumption of dialogue with the North, one day before the six-party talks, has raised many eyebrows.

President Roh Moo-hyun, currently on a visit to Spain, said during a phone call with the U.S. President Bush on Wednesday, that he will try hard to ensure that North Korea’s promises from the six-party talks are kept.

In a speech to Koreans living abroad, President Roh said, “A notable aspect of the agreement is the clause stating that Korean Peninsular will work on negotiating with the North to bring about permanent peace. The binding clauses are simple and they will be easily adhered to.”

Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, on the other hand, claimed that the agreement was very poorly managed, and he hopes President Bush will reject it. He also said that the agreement resembled a simple reconsideration of the Geneva Convention. He also claimed that the agreement sends the wrong message to nuclear-ambitious countries.

Democratic Party member and chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Joseph Biden, simply named the Beijing agreement “Back to the Future”, and criticized, saying, “Back in 2002, President Bush refused to reach an agreement, which was same with the Beijing agreement, which only made North Korea’s nuclear program more dangerous.

Japanese experts on North Korea are also worried that the agreement did not include details on how the North should go about scrapping its nuclear weapon program. “Even though the Beijing agreement stipulated that all existing nuclear weapons should be disabled, North Korea’s current nuclear weapons do not fall under the agreement,” pointed out Professor Hajime Izumi of the University of Shizuoka. “The North will go on possessing nuclear weapons,” said Professor Hideya Kurata of Kyorin University.