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[Editorial] N. Korea Nuke Threat Rising Again

Posted August. 27, 2008 09:34,   


North Korea said yesterday that it has suspended disabling its nuclear facilities in Yongbyon and is considering restoring them, blaming the United States for the latest standoff in the denuclearization talks. Pyongyang said it inevitably took the measure because Washington has failed to remove North Korea from its list of terrorism sponsoring nations as agreed on Oct. 3 last year, though North Korea has honored its promise to disable the nuclear facilities.

Hearing this absurd claim, we cannot but doubt Pyongyang’s sincerity to dismantle its nuclear program. The Oct. 3 agreement made it clear that the United States will remove North Korea from the list only after Pyongyang makes a complete and accurate declaration of all its nuclear programs. Given the wording of “complete” and “accurate,” the promise of removal from the list was made on the premise of the declaration`s verification. If North Korea is willing to continue its denuclearization process in good faith, it should accept a verification protocol proposed by the United States.

To verify Pyongyang’s account of its nuclear activity, material samples, unannounced onsite visits and verification of undeclared facilities are necessary. These are international standards for verification, but Pyongyang has rejected them on the grounds that they infringe its national sovereignty. If its declaration is wholly accurate, there is no reason to refuse the proposed verification protocol.

North Korea might have burdened by Chinese President Hu Jintao’s promise to closely cooperate in resolving the nuclear issue made in summit talks with South Korea. Reports say Beijing has suggested a solution to Washington to narrow differences with North Korea over the verification process. Expecting looming international attention to its nuclear disarmament with the end of the Beijing Olympics and growing pressure from China, North Korea seeks to pass responsibility for delaying the next-stage of the denuclearization process onto the United States. But no countries participating in the nuclear disarmament talks will buy into its charges.

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the launch of the six-way talks on the second nuclear crisis caused by North Korea. The talks, however, failed to prevent Pyongyang’s nuclear test in 2006. Despite two agreements, the denuclearization process has barely reached the first stage of Pyongyang`s nuclear declaration and the disablement of its nuclear facilities. When it comes to North Korea`s nuclear program, the past 10 years constitute a “lost decade.” Both South Korea and its people should gear up again to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.