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Opening Speech and the First Session

Posted March. 28, 2007 07:34,   


As if it was a sign of heightened interest in the developments of the North Korean nuclear issue, the conference room was filled with dozens of American experts on North Korean issues along with many journalists.

In the opening speech, Dong-A Ilbo president Kim Hak-jun emphasized, “The cold war on the Korean peninsula should be changed into peace. To that end, the current armistice agreement should be replaced with a peace agreement. This is a premise which nobody can deny.”

He pointed out, “From this viewpoint, the September 19 Joint Statement in 2005 and this year’s February 13 Agreement are basic steps toward establishing a peaceful regime on the peninsula. In that regard, they are enough successful. However, before dismantling North Korea’s nuclear programs, signing and concluding of any peace agreement would be undesirable.”

Kim added, “For the sake of denuclearization on the peninsula, the North Koreans should make good on their promise with the international community to abandon their nuclear weapons come hell or high water. Also, the Americans should know that suspicion that the U.S. exaggerated the information on North Korea’s highly enriched uranium has been raised, and it should clarify the suspicion once and for all.”

Morning session 1, whose theme was “North Korea’s Dilemma,” was moderated by David I. Steinberg, professor and director of Asian Studies at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Scott Snyder, senior fellow at the Asia Foundation, said, “North Korea makes an exchange with the outside world on a limited basis, showing certain patterns.” He cited four major patterns of Pyongyang— first, it pursues its own interests only; second, it talks with the outside world only when it is asked or when the international community supports its regime’s legitimacy; third, it wants to be at the center of the international diplomacy rather than being at the mercy of powerful nations; fourth, it regards international assistance as imperialistic attempts to overthrow its regime.

Professor Hyun In-taek of Korea University stressed, “North Korea’s nuclear program should be dismantled completely, bilateralism should be respected, and the South Korean government should have a specific plan for the implementation of what was agreed upon in the six-party talks.”

Alan Romberg of the Stimson Center said, “North Korea is a tiny, weak country, but it has learned how to drive a hard bargain with powerful countries. However, the hermit kingdom can’t go on the current path without reforms. The U.S. should not make an attempt to attack North Korea.”