Updated : Apr.27.2005 01:21 KST

[Editorial] North Must Come to 6-Party Talks

The North Korean nuclear issue is approaching a climax. Doubts about the six-party format are spreading fast within the US administration with hard-liners there openly talking about taking the issue to the UN Security Council, while North Korea is confronting that talk straight-on, saying referring the issue to the UNSC and sanctions against it will be considered an act of war. The Korean government is caught between this muscle flexing and is increasingly in a difficult position. Dark clouds are gathering over the Korean peninsula as China's efforts to persuade the North are not producing concrete results. Reports in the US media that the North might soon engage in a nuclear test and the talk about a so-called "June crisis" are the result of the stubborn stances of the North and the US as they remain engrossed with the muscle flexing and show no sign of compromising.

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs Christopher Hill, the top US delegate to the six-party talks, has met with deputy foreign minister Song Min Soon and later also with President Roh Moo Hyun, foreign minister Ban Ki Moon, and Lee Jong Seok, deputy head of the National Security Council. Reportedly they discussed what to do if the six-party talks fail to open because of the North's refusal to participate. Korean government officials used to try to express hope about the issue as much as possible. Hearing voices of concern is a reflection on the situation.

The fact of the matter is that with Korea, China, and Russia opposed to submitting the issue to the UNSC and sanctions, it would be hard for that approach to be effective. But if things escalate that way the nuclear situation will go from bad to worse and it be hard to turn back. That is why we on the one hand cite the problems with the US's policy of pressuring North Korea to submit unilaterally while calling on the North to be more flexible. "Brinkmanship tactics" sometimes produces the desired effect but it must realize that over the long run it loses more than it gains that way. We again call on it to participate in the six-party talks, and ask the government to do all it can until the very end.

The Hankyoreh, 27 April 2005.

[Translations by Seoul Selection (PMS)]

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