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“N.Korea-Syria Link Should be Addressed in Inter-Korean Summit”

“N.Korea-Syria Link Should be Addressed in Inter-Korean Summit”

Posted September. 27, 2007 03:07,   


“The alleged link between North Korea and Syria over a suspected nuclear deal is casting dark clouds over the Six-Party Talks. I hope that President Roh, in preparation for the summit, pays attention to the concerns and requests of the U.S. in dealing with North Korea`s nuclear problem.”

Robert Gallucci, Dean of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, was chief negotiator of the 1994 N. Korea-US "Agreed Framework." He didn’t take a rose-colored view on the ongoing negotiations regarding North Korea’s denuclearization, including the inter-Korean summit talks slated for next month. This interview took place in his office on Sept. 26.

Q: What effects do you believe the upcoming summit talks will have on resolving North Korea’s nuclear development?

A: “As long as progress is made in the Six-Party Talks, any dialogue between the two Koreas is constructive. However, problems arise when conflict occurs over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions between the U.S. and the communist regime. If South Korea does not consider the discord between the U.S. and North Korea, and pursues the inter-Korean relationship without consideration on the U.S. part, it will lead to straining bilateral relations between Seoul and Washington. It will also have a negative impact on the Six-Party Talks. However, we see a dark cloud is gathering at the moment. It is unknown what facilities in Syria were destroyed by Israeli air strikes, but some experts believe they were related to a suspected nuclear deal between N. Korea and Syria. This is not auspicious news for the Six-Party Talks. If Seoul does not take this issue seriously, it will make Washington uncomfortable, and undermine the dynamics of the Six-Party Talks.”

Q: It is reported that a North Korean vessel discharged its cargo in Syria on Sept. 3. It is hard to figure out why Pyongyang raised controversy in the face of the inter-Korean summit and making progress in the Six-Party Talks.

A: “Sometimes, unexpected events occur that are out of the administration’s control. There have been several occasions relating to China in the past. I am not sure but that incident may not have been controlled by the North Korean leadership.”

Q: Do you believe if the controversy is not settled in the Six-Party Talks, slated to begin today, it should be dealt with in the summit talks when nuclear issues are addressed?

A: “My sincere expectation is to see president Roh listen to the U.S. so that the high-ranking officials in the two countries could have consultation with each other. The most efficient and best way over this issue is to have enough consultation prior to the summit talks.”

Q: In fact, it does not seem that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il wants to put nuclear issues on the agenda in the summit talks. Also, president Roh recently commented, “demanding the nuclear problems’ inclusion on the agenda is nothing short of inviting a fight with Kim Jong Il.”

A: It is natural that a number of issues will be addressed between the South and North. However, the inter-Korean relations should be in line with Washington policy on North Korea. Any lack of cooperation between Seoul and Washington will result in a widening gap in their bilateral relationship. The nuclear problem should not become an obstacle to other issues. However, North Korea’s attitude in dealing with denuclearization should be reflected in the ongoing inter-Korean summit talks.”

Q: President Roh seems to believe that establishing a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula should be addressed with great urgency. However, there are some suspicions that signing the agreements of the peace regime without considering the progress of denuclearization will negatively affect the Six-Party Talks.

A: “I agree (with such concerns.) We should be careful. All the carrots we dangle before N. Korea should be prudently considered and controlled.”

Q: It is expected that president Roh and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il can reach an agreement concerning the establishment of a peace regime on the Peninsula.

A: “If the two Korean leaders reach a conclusion on a peace treaty, it will mean the North has officially declared the end of the Korean War. In addition, it will encourage the North to separate South Korea from the U.S.- U.N. in dealing with the peace issue. This will be beneficial for neither of them. South Korea should participate in the process of ending the war and building a peace treaty, where all the participants in the Korean War have their share. It is not desirable for the two Koreas to be excluded from such a process.”

Q: President Roh said he will focus on other issues since the resolution of nuclear issues are underway. Do you agree?

A: “The issue is on the right track, but we still have long way to go. In technical terms, disabling nuclear facilities could be carried out within a short period of time. Still, it will be different when it comes to the politics. It will take longer than we thought as we are faced with complicated negotiations. It is not difficult to lock-down the nuclear facilities and have them verified by international inspectors. What is important is to make North Korea give up all the centrifuges for uranium enrichment it possesses. The upcoming summit talks should encourage North Korea to fulfill its pledges faithfully as soon as possible.”