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평화군축센터    한반도 평화를 위해 비핵군축운동을 합니다

[Statement] There have been a lot of debates on how to restrain North Korea after its nuclear weapons test. The South Korean government reacted by saying that it would participate more actively in the Proliferation Security Initiative(PSI), which is likely to target North Korea, and impose economic sanctions if the new U.N. resolution includes those measures. Some critics argue that if Roh Moo Hyun administration's policy of the reconciliation and cooperation provided the North with an excuse for its reckless nuclear test, the policy should be abandoned. Even though a calm attitude is required to prevent the crisis and hostilities from escalating to disastrous consequences, confrontational claims are surging.

What should be done at this critical conjuncture is to control the current nuclear crisis safely and to make North Korea to relinquish its nuclear weapons and stand by the principle of nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. The North's defiant action itself to rely on nuclear weapons for maintaining its regime and nation deserves strong reactions from the South. Its increased isolation from the international community is now more likely to menace the lives of its own people. Despite all this, the government and the National Assembly of ROK should not place sanctions on the North. They should instead try to find out what led to a failure of the North Korea policy of the U.S. and South Korea and come up with an available solution to end the North's nuclear weapons program.

We express our deep concern over the government's decision to re-examine its reconciliatory policies toward the North, to join financial sanctions and to expand its participation in the PSI. If implemented, these policies would amount to following the Bush administration's hawkish policy which has proved a critical failure. North Korea’s nuclear test manifests the ineffectiveness of the U.S. policies of nuclear non-proliferation combined with hard-line stance toward the North. Given that there are now stronger and more calls even from the U.S. side for bilateral talks between the U.S. and North Korea, repeating Washington’s mistakes will not help lessening tensions in the region at all. We urge to go beyond partisan stances criticizing the engagement policy while unquestionably agreeing to sanctions.

The South Korean government should drop its possible plan to expand the scope of its participation in the PSI or to suspend the investments in the Mt. Geumgang tourism and Gaesung industry complex. North Korea already warned that an action taken by the PSI would be considered as a declaration of war. So, it is not hard to imagine that a coercive measure taken by South Korea increases likelihood for military engagement. The Mt. Geumgang tourism and Gaesung industrial complex were established by the Joint Declaration of June 15, 2000 and remain as key channels of dialogue and exchange between two Koreas. It is also not difficult to imagine that if the South Korean government puts brakes on these enterprises, it will be seen as break-off of the declaration. It is crucial that these arrangements remain open and as channels of inter-Korean dialogue and exchanges. In the same token, the government of South Korea should continue its humanitarian assistance to the North without a suspension. The argument that the South Korean government should give up or at least modify the reconciliation and cooperation policy toward North Korea because of the nuclear test stems from a lack of understanding on the nature of the policy. The engagement policy was a survival strategy and a necessary step toward imposing peace on the Korean Peninsula and creating conditions for overcoming the half-century long confrontation of the Cold War and for eventual reunion. Moreover, the policy was not the reason for the North's nuclear test. The testing was a countermeasure by North Korea to the so-called U.S. benign neglect policy and therefore a consequence of the U.S.-North Korea conflict. What has weakened Roh Moo Hyun administration’s leverage over North Korea was the inconsistency of its North Korea policy at various moments. While making little efforts to create a new security arrangement in Northeast Asia, relying much of its security polices on the US-ROK alliance and building up its own military arsenal, Roh’s administration certainly overlooked how North Korea’s concern over the growing military imbalance would fare with Roh’s stance for reconciliation. The real question here is about the consistency and sincerity with which Roh Moo Hyun administration has tried to exert the engagement policy toward the North.

People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy consistently emphasizes that North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons is unacceptable. Equally unacceptable is any form of nuclear weapons possessed by anyone. Be it made in North Korea or the US, a nuclear weapon is a crime against humanity all the same.

It is neither by emotional responses nor sensationalism that the current crisis should be resolved. Governments should be guided by rational and workable alternatives based on peace principles. By taking substantial measures to lead North Korea towards abandoning its nuclear weapons program, the ROK government should control the situation, forestall catastrophic developments and maintain denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Joining the PSI and economic sanctions on North Korea or suspending North-South exchanges and cooperation can never settle this crisis. A new re-examination of the situation should start with a careful review of what went wrong – what combination has ultimately forced North Korea to go for nuclear testing.

Center for Peace and Disarmament


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