No Peace Treaty Before Nuclear Disarmament for N.Korea

      January 12, 2010 13:08

      North Korea in a Foreign Ministry statement on Monday urged the countries involved in the 1953 armistice to promptly launch talks over a peace treaty. The regime's ministry said it had been "commissioned" to make the proposal, presumably by the leader Kim Jong-il.

      Some South Korean government officials said it is likely that North Korea proposed peace talks to justify its return to the six-party talks. But peace talks can be held as part of the nuclear dialogue, since the six-party talks have already agreed to create a forum to talk about the issue. More importantly, therefore, North Korea must first return to the six-party talks to find a solution to the nuclear impasse.

      There are suspicions that the North is raising the issue as a tactic to blur the prime focus of the six-party talks -- the denuclearization of North Korea. The North is in dire need of help from the international community due to UN sanctions following its two nuclear tests, while a recent currency revaluation has exacerbated financial chaos. And returning to the talks seems to be the only way for North Korea to emerge from this dilemma, so it may be trying to gain an advantage in the talks by proposing the peace talks as a precondition.

      North Korea appears to have laid a trap by saying that it proposed peace talks those involved in the armistice. Since the 1960s, Pyongyang has consistently tried to sideline South Korea from any talks involving a peace treaty by demanding that peace talks take place only between the signatories to the armistice that ended the Korean War, namely North Korea, China, and the U.S. But if the North is to get any help, South Korea needs to open its wallet, and why would Seoul bother to do that if it is not included?

      When Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, visited Pyongyang late last year, he also made it clear that any talks about a peace treaty should come after there is progress in nuclear disarmament. It is time for North Korea to stop daydreaming and wake up to reality.

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