~~~~~[ed] Iran deal and Koreas~~~~~ [ed] Iran deal and Koreas - The Korea Times


ⓕ font-size

  • -2
  • -1
  • 0
  • +1
  • +2

edIran deal and Koreas

  • Facebook share button
  • Twitter share button
  • Kakao share button
  • Mail share button
  • Link share button
Despite the landmark nuclear deal between Iran and major powers Tuesday, not many people, here or abroad, appear to anticipate a similar resolution for the North Korean situation.

It is hard to rebut these pessimists. Unlike Iran, categorized at best as a "threshold nuclear state," North Korea has long been called a virtual nuclear power. Resource-rich Iran has suffered significantly from economic sanctions, but the impoverished North has little left to lose. Also, many countries can expect economic benefits from Teheran's economic freedom, but Pyongyang offers few such incentives.

In the wake of the historical deal, U.S. diplomats reiterated their often issued statement that Washington is always open to talks with Pyongyang "if only the latter shows sufficient sincerity." It is evident, however, the U.S. administration ― which has just completed one tortuous negotiation and has to successfully sell it to a skeptical Congress ― has not much capacity left to start another nuclear bargaining marathon, especially because President Barack Obama's term ends in 18 months. "We cannot start bargaining with a country that has its nuclear programs under way," one official said in a virtual rejection of talks.

The Obama administration's hands-off stance on North Korea's nuclear problems is hardly desirable but not entirely incomprehensible, given the situation facing Washington as well as the North's increasingly adamant stance.

Less understandable is the South Korean government's reaction, which seems to be looking on the latest development with indifference. "We urge North Korea to take a path toward denuclearization in accordance with the U.S. resolution and Sept. 19, 2005 joint statement," said a foreign ministry spokesman.

This is so detached and loose a response coming from a country that might be affected most severely by a hostile regime next door and its nuclear weapons. Washington and Beijing can afford to wait almost indefinitely while applying pressure tactics and "strategic patience" alternately. There are even suspicions the U.S. is making the most of the North's nuclear programs to use it as an excuse for military buildup in this part of the world.

South Korea cannot do the same, however. Seoul must make a ceaseless call for the discontinuation of Pyongyang's nuclear programs, not just in words but in actions ― providing its own carrots and sticks ― while creating an environment conducive to the resumption of dialogue by parties involved. The Park Geun-hye administration, for instance, can induce the North to take some preliminary steps to resuming multilateral talks, through economic incentives. President Park can set an example by practicing her "trustpolitik" slogan, not just forcing the North to move first.

Seoul has mainly studied Washington's face and relied on Beijing to solve the North Korean nuclear problems. Park's forthcoming visit to Washington and her summit with Obama should be an occasion for Seoul to take the initiative in breaking nuclear impasse.

If the South Korean leader plans to follow the U.S. policy of indifference in Washington, she should instead stay home instead.

Interactive News

  • Unlocking Children's COVID-19 Stress through Art
  • Dark Truth of E-6
  • E-Prix thrills racing fans in Seoul
  • With tough love,
  • 'Santa dogs' help rebuild burnt forests in Andong
  • 'Santa dogs' help rebuild burnt forests in Andong

Top 10 Stories

go top LETTER