Updated : May.10.2005 01:31 KST

Not Much Time Left For North Korea

It seems like the discussion over restarting the six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear issue is reaching its last possible stage. President Roh Moo Hyun and Chinese president Hu Jintao met in Moscow and expressed "deep concern over a situation that continues to be unclear." When the leaders of the two countries that are trying the hardest to get the talks going again have "deep concern" that means the situation is serious. On Monday Roh met with Russian president Vladimir Putin. On May 5 US president George W. Bush and Hu met one on one, and next month Roh will have separate meeting with Bush and later Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi. By all appearances the leaders of all the nations on the Korean peninsula and surrounding areas are planning their summit agendas based on the North Korean nuclear issue.

It is also serious that there continues to be theories about North Korea holding a nuclear test, originating with hard-liners in the US and Japan. They say there is no precise intelligence, but the situation is such that it would be hard to completely deny the possibility. Now that the North had declared that it has nuclear weapons, it is not entirely unlikely that it will want to be recognized as such by demonstrating it with the clear evidence that an experiment would be. That, however, would strategically be a big mistake because all nations would inevitably see it as a threat, and there is almost no possibility that possessing nuclear arms will contribute to the North's security or help alleviate its economic difficulties. At the moment the theories about a test look very exaggerated. You sense a motive in it on the part of hard-liners who seek to push the situation in a way that pressures the North.

Much about the North's taking issue with the US's antagonist policy and demand for the right mood and conditions for participating in the six-party talks are understandable. There does exist a need for the US to be more flexible and lessen the North's concerns. Not that that makes a nuclear armed North Korea acceptable. Worsening the things further would only make it more difficult to resolve the situation. It has almost been a year since the last round of six-party talks. We call on North Korea to make the right decision before any more time goes by.

The Hankyoreh, 10 May 2005.

[Translations by Seoul Selection (PMS)]

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