Think Tank Upsets Gov't with Thoughts on Nuclear N.Korea

      February 02, 2012 13:15

      A government-funded think tank has upset the Foreign Ministry with a report that advises treating North Korea as a de facto nuclear state.

      The report published recently by the Korea Institute for National Unification says Seoul "cannot recognize the North as a nuclear state officially, but the stark reality is that the North is a nuclear state from a strategic point of view." South Korea "will have no choice but to formulate strategies toward the North and implement North Korea policy based on this reality."

      A senior Foreign Ministry official on Wednesday slammed the conclusion. "The moment we recognize the North as a nuclear state, all the rules of the game will change," he said. "Such a proposal shouldn't have been made by a government agency."

      He said if any country negotiates with the North based on recognizing it as a nuclear state, the country would end up complying with Pyongyang's demand that nuclear disarmament talks are held between nuclear states on an equal footing.

      Another Foreign Ministry official said the international community merely speculates that the North has nuclear weapons, but nobody has confirmed that. "Both the UN Security Council's sanctions against the North and the six-party nuclear talks were based on the criticism that the North was trying to implement a nuclear program," not that it already has the bomb.

      The ministry believes that this kind of approach could be taken advantage of by the North now new leader Kim Jong-un is seeking a new strategy toward the South after Kim Jong-il's death.

      But Cho Min, a senior researcher at KINU who co-wrote the report, said, "We did not mean to recommend recognizing the North as a nuclear state contrary to the government's position. We just meant we should work out strategies based on the belief that the North has nuclear materials that are threatening us."

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