N. Korea nuclear issue calls for new thinking

By KIM Sangsoon
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, February 9, 2016
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Clueless [By Jiao Haiyang/China.org.cn]

After North Korea's fourth nuclear test, there has been a divergence among major stakeholders regarding their sanctions toward the country. However, this in turn gives the country a greater initiative for further moves and an improved strategic status.

North Korea announced on Feb. 2 that it plans to launch an observation satellite into space, the same day that Wu Dawei, China's top envoy in the six-party talk, arrived in the country, thus putting its neighboring countries in a passive position.

Denuclearization is a consensus reached among all stakeholders of the Korean Peninsula, but dealing with North Korea's nuclear program remains a difficult proposition. Does it call for a change of thinking?

New thinking

The six-party talk, a universally acknowledged cooperation institution for addressing the problem, turned out to be a failure. The reason lies in the divergence between the US-led alliance triangle with Japan and South Korea and the triangle formed by China, North Korea and Russia, which is the result of the Cold War and post-Cold War mentality, and has resulted in an increased tension of bilateral ties.

While acknowledging the difficulties of the talks, stakeholders should also adopt a new approach to address the issue and promote peace and development in Northeast Asia.

First, simplify the framework. The nuclear talk should only involve countries which signed the armistice at the end of the Korean War, namely China, the United States, South Korea and North Korea. In this way, the exclusion of Japan and Russia will avoid unnecessary disputes and narrow down the problem.

Second, divide the problem into smaller specific ones to cope with. During the talk, there needs to be a clear line between economic issues and political issues, and issues in different categories. While acknowledging the difference between the "North Korea issue" and its nuclear issue, all parties should also avoid a single clean cut approach toward issues in the country's regime, economy, their people's well-being, society and culture.

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