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평화군축센터    한반도 평화를 위해 비핵군축운동을 합니다

North Korea pushed forward with their missile launch last week. Other nations such as South Korea, the U.S., and Japan reacted by taking a hard-line approach. As a result, these actions immediately complicated the security situation on the Korean Peninsula.

We express regret that despite concerns from South Korea and the international community, North Korea proceeded with missile tests. It is not yet clear whether the missile firing was utilized as a North Korean 'diplomatic strategy' to press the U.S. into direct negotiations, or used as a 'military deterrent' in response to military threats from the U.S. Whatever North Korea’s intentions, missile launches were an unwise action which raised the security stakes on the Korean Peninsula while also increasing leverage of hawks in Washington and Tokyo.

We are also deeply worried with the adoption of a hard-line response, both domestically and internationally, towards North Korea. President Bush ceased negotiations regarding North Korea's missiles as soon as he took office. Moreover, the Bush Administration has ignored North Korea and maintained a strategy based on military threats against the North. Therefore, the U.S. government cannot avoid blame for this recent unfortunate event. The Japanese government should also be blamed for keeping its long-time hard-line approach toward North Korea since the Pyeongyang Declaration in September 2002. Lastly, the South Korean government has not promoted military trust-building, nor done enough to create a more favorable atmosphere between the two Koreas. South Korea accepted the U.S. military’s 'Strategic Flexibility', conceded to U.S. hegemony by partially attending 'Proliferation Security Initiative', and dramatically built up its military forces.

We also find it problematic that domestic politics and the media define the North Korean missile launches as a failure of South Korea's 'engagement policy' and initiate a hard-line approach toward the North. The current North Korean missile launch crisis is the result of the U.S. government's hard-line policy and North Korea's improper response to it.

Given these circumstances, we call on other nations to solve today's crisis in a wise manner, and work towards creating a peaceful atmosphere. Below, we list our following demands:

First, North Korea should immediately give up its belligerent rhetoric. Stating "more tests are on the way" only provokes the crisis, and creates an unfavorable atmosphere for negotiations. Moreover, it should show its willingness to cover comprehensive issues on the Korean Peninsula including the missile issue at the upcoming inter-Korean ministerial talks scheduled for July 11.

Second, it has already been proven that the U.S. policy based on sanctions and pressure is unable to resolve North Korean nuclear and missile problems. Therefore, the U.S. government should return to the negotiating table with North Korea and show respect for North Korea's own sovereignty. We are opposed to sanctions against North Korea, whether unilaterally from the U.S., or through a UN resolution, which will only deteriorate the current crisis. Moreover, we urge the U.S. to actively participate in any form of talks with North Korea.

Third, the Japanese government should reverse its tough stance against North Korea. For example, it should reverse its decision to block the entry of the North Korean cargo vessel ManKyungBong and its sponsorship of U.N. sanctions against the North. In addition, Japan should actively take part in talks with North Korea to resolve the Japanese kidnapping issue, and resume normal DPRK-Japan diplomatic relations. As Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi had suggested prior to the nuclear crisis, the Japanese government should offer to play the role of mediator between the U.S. and North Korea to foster trust and the improvement of relations.

Fourth, the South Korean government should retract its decision to suspend humanitarian assistance to the North, including rice and fertilizer shipments, and should keep economic assistance and cooperation intact. Any intention to induce changes in North Korean policy through sanctions and coercion are in violation of the basic principles of an ‘engagement policy’, and reduces the opportunities for South Korea’s involvement, thereby adversely affecting inter-Korea relations. The South Korean government should see the firing of missiles as an opportunity to take more of a lead role in resolving North Korean issues.

Fifth, the international community, including the six-party talk participants, should incorporate six-party talks with parallel bilateral talks between the U.S. and North Korea. The U.S. held bilateral talks with all other 6 party members except North Korea. The United States’ refusal to hold direct talks with the North raises suspicion whether the U.S. really has any intention in solving problems with North Korea. In order to resume the six-party talks and achieve success, we believe the U.S. and North Korea must exchange their concerns and break their state of distrust through direct talks.

Finally, we like to make an earnest request to our people, media, and politicians. It is certain that the North Korean missile launches have a negative impact on South Korea’s economy and security. However, this is not a consequence of South Korea’s 'engagement policy', but a result of North Korea’s improper reaction towards a U.S.-backed hard-line policy. In that sense, South Korean politicians and media should not take a tougher policy approach towards the North

We reiterate our concerns over the North Korean missile launches and urge other nations, including South Korea, to turn the possible ‘crisis’ caused by the missile tests into an ‘opportunity’.

2006. 7. 10

Korea Youth Corps, Green Korea United, People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, Civil Network for a Peaceful Korea, Korea Women's Associations United, Women Making Peace, National Council of YMCAs of KOREA, Korean Federation for Environmental Movement

Center for Peace and Disarmament


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