N. Korea as nuclear state
Completely different approach needed
North Korea has identified itself as a nuclear state in the preface of its revised constitution, casting a dark cloud over the stalled six-party denuclearization talks on the Stalinist country’s nuclear weapons program. The constitution was revised at last month’s meeting of the rubber-stamp Supreme People’s Assembly and the foreword says former leader Kim Jong-il changed the North into a ``nuclear power and invincible military superpower.’’
North Korea’s stubborn and wayward pursuit of nuclear weapons, which has continued over the past decades, disregarding international calls to halt the weapons program, is deplorable enough and now the denuclearization talks are as good as dead.
The United States, one of the six nations participating in the talks, made clear that it will never recognize the North as a nuclear state. The other participating nations in the talks are South and North Korea, China, Japan and Russia.
South Korea, for its part, made clear its stance of not accepting North Korea as a nuclear state. ``Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is our coherent principle. North Korea should observe the joint declaration on the nuclear-free peninsula,’’ a South Korean foreign ministry official was quoted as saying.
It’s not difficult to understand the reason why North Korea has inscribed its status as a nuclear weapons state in its constitution. More than anything else, North Korea is apparently seeking to be treated as a nation possessing nuclear weapons outside the framework of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). At present, there are two kinds of nuclear states; one group includes the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France that are exceptionally recognized as nuclear powers within the framework of the NPT and the other group includes Israel, India and Pakistan that didn’t join the pact but have been recognized as de-facto nuclear states. Indeed the North wants to change the current ``NPT plus 3’’ formula into the ``NPT plus 4.’’
It’s also easy to infer that the reclusive country will increase its leverage during negotiations, not only by using nukes as a bargaining tool but in seeking to push for disarmament talks as a nuclear-armed country. North Korea also appears eager to go head to head with the United States by simultaneously developing
long-range missiles that could hit mainland America, thereby limiting the chances of the superpower pursuing military intervention in the Korean Peninsula.
The inclusion of the phrase about being a nuclear state is also seen as a move to placate North Koreans who still harbor suspicions of the new leadership under Kim Jong-un who inherited power from his father.
Now the prospect for North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is murky as the North and the international community continue to confront each other, engaging in inconclusive arguments.
In a nutshell, the time has come for the international community to consider a new approach toward North Korea, completely different from the existing six-way talks.