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North Korea must adjust stance in face of heightened isolation

Publication Date : 05-07-2013

 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the first secretary of the country’s Workers’ Party of Korea, must soberly accept the reality that his country’s isolation under the sanctions of the international community has intensified and shift to a policy of abandoning Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

A ministerial meeting of the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Regional Forum, attended by foreign ministers from 26 countries including Japan, the United States and China, as well as the European Union, was held in Brunei and adopted a chairman’s statement.

The statement stipulates that most ministers urge North Korea to comply with its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions and that most ministers call on North Korea to abide by its commitments under the September 2005 six-party joint statement. The chairman’s statement thus urges North Korea to take action toward abandonment of its nuclear programme.

North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun made a rebuttal to the ARF statement, saying among other things that the deterioration of the situation on the Korean Peninsula stems from the United States’ deep-rooted policy of hostility toward North Korea.

No supporters

However, none of North Korea’s comments were included in the statement. This has significant meaning, as it symbolises the fact that not a single country stands with North Korea.

The statement is part of a series of international measures to pressure the reclusive country following the US-China summit talks and the Group of Eight summit meeting, both held in June.

Since last year, North Korea has launched a long-range ballistic missile and conducted a third nuclear test despite international warnings. Each time, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution to strengthen sanctions against the country.

The ARF statement also stipulates that most ministers reconfirmed their nations would “fully implement” UNSC sanction resolutions on North Korea. This can be regarded as a declaration of the participating nations’ determination not to loosen restrictions on Pyongyang.

North Korea’s recent shift to a policy of dialogue, away from its brinkmanship strategy of creating crises through provocative remarks and actions, must be proof of its struggle to find a way to escape from its current situation, in which it can barely prop up the economy due to the pressure of sanctions.

Take concrete action

North Korea has been asking the United States to accept its proposal for dialogue without preconditions.

If the United States accepted that by willingly overlooking North Korea’s selfish actions of repeating nuclear tests and missile launches, it would simply be repeating the past. In that sense, it is quite appropriate for Japan, the United States and South Korea to demand North Korea take concrete action toward denuclearisation of the country.

North Korea’s Pak resorted to deception over the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents, saying that the issue “has been completely resolved.” Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida flatly rejected Pak’s statement as “in contradiction of the facts,” based on the past sequence of events, including North Korea’s promise to reinvestigate the matter. Kishida further called for concerted action by the international community, claiming other countries than Japan have had people abducted. His actions were quite appropriate.

The chairman’s statement also touches upon the importance of addressing international humanitarian concerns. This indirectly reflects Japan’s strong demand for resolution of the abduction issue.

There must be no normalisation of relations between Japan and North Korea without a comprehensive solution of the latter’s nuclear and missile development programs and the abduction issue. The government needs to firmly maintain this stance and persuade Kim Jong Un to move things forward on the abduction issue, while tightening the noose around North Korea.

 

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