N.Korea's Mixed Messages Will No Longer Work

      January 19, 2010 13:18

      North Korea's Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Monday saying that if the North goes back to the six-party nuclear talks while UN sanctions remain in place, the talks "would not be equal." North Korea pledged it will "never allow this to happen." Last Monday, the ministry formally proposed talks to replace the armistice that ended the Korean War with a peace treaty this year, which marks the 60th anniversary of the war.

      But on Friday, a spokesman for North Korea's powerful National Defense Commission threatened to cut off all dialogue with South Korea over a South Korean contingency plan for the fall of the communist government and vowed to wage a "sacred retaliatory battle" against those who conceived it. On Sunday, North Korea's state media reported that leader Kim Jong-il recently watched a massive military exercise and showcased a photo of a 240 mm howitzer whose devastating ordinance could reach Seoul. And then on Monday, the official Rodong Sinmun daily, in an editorial calling for the improvement of inter-Korean relations, said that such changes are "urgently" needed. On the same day it threatened a sacred battle, the North graciously accepted aid shipments of 10,000 tons of corn from the South.

      Why the mixed signals? It is possible that North Korea's military, foreign ministry and the agency in charge of dealing with South Korean issues are all pulling on different strings. But North Korea should know by now that South Korea will not step forward with assistance packages while being bombarded with threats. It has become obvious to the South that its previous strategy of appeasing North Korea does not work and only leads to negative effects.

      The same goes for the stalled six-party talks. North Korea voluntarily said it could discuss the peace treaty within the framework of the six-party talks, so it must return to them. Over the last 18 years, North Korea has made countless promises to scrap its nuclear weapons program, but conducted two nuclear tests -- one in 2006 and another in 2009. The UN sanctions that followed them are punitive measures meted out not only by South Korea and the U.S., but by the international community including China. The fastest way for North Korea to be freed from sanctions is to return to the six-party talks and take concrete action supporting its pledge to scrap its nuclear weapons program.

      • Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com
      Previous Next
      All Headlines Back to Top