Views from Korea on crisis


January 07, 2003

The crisis began Oct. 16 with the news that North Korea had a secret nuclear weapons program.

It escalated in December when North Korea announced that it was defying the rest of the world by removing equipment that international inspectors had installed eight years earlier to prevent North Korea from using its plutonium stockpile to produce nuclear weapons.

Then, North Korea announced that it was starting up a nuclear reactor and ordered inspectors to leave the country.

Here is how Koreans are viewing the situation, in excerpts taken yesterday from newspapers, news agencies and government statements:

Korean Central News Agency of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (a North Korean news agency):

The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is an issue that should be settled through DPRK-U.S. dialogue as it is a product of the U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK. The DPRK, therefore, has consistently proposed dialogue with the U.S. without preconditions and conclusion of a nonaggression treaty with the U.S. There is no change in the DPRK stand to settle the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful way.

However, [Richard] Boucher, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, in a press conference on Jan. 3 repeated the U.S. demand that the DPRK "scrap its nuclear program first," openly revealing the U.S. intention to disarm the DPRK.

This goes to prove that the U.S. moves to internationalize the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula to create an atmosphere of pressure on the DPRK and isolate and stifle it are becoming all the more undisguised entering the new year. ... The DPRK keeps the door of dialogue for a peaceful settlement of the issue open with maximum restraint while warning the U.S. against its unilateral and extreme breach of the Agreed Framework [treaty] several times and taking necessary countermeasures. ...

If there are countries which are concerned for the settlement of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, they, proceeding from a fair stand, should force the U.S. to remain true to the international agreement so that it may discontinue its unilateral behavior. It is self-evident that if they try to curry favor with the U.S. by following its extreme acts failing to do so, the situation on the Korean Peninsula will be pushed to a phase of crisis.

There is a limit to the DPRK's forbearance and patience. The U.S. is well-advised to ponder over the grave consequences to be entailed by its hostile policy to stifle the DPRK. If the U.S. persists in its policy to isolate and stifle the DPRK, the U.S. will be branded as a disturber of peace and stability in Northeast Asia, shameless aggressor and the main obstacle to Korea's reunification and go to ruin.

Another dispatch from the news agency discusses the country and its leader:

The Korean nation is the greatest nation in the world. They have lived in their land since the dawn of human history, creating their peculiar history and culture.

The advantages of the Korean nation have been handed down generation after generation with its ancient history. It came to give fuller play to them as it acclaimed President Kim Il Sung, a peerless patriot and a peerlessly great man, and leader Kim Jong Il, the sun of the nation, as the leaders of the nation, and the Korean nation could demonstrate its dignity to the world as a great nation with exceptionally high pride. ...

The division of the country is the main factor of hurting dignity and self-respect of the Korean nation. The independent right and dignity of the Korean nation are trampled down and the people's right to existence is also threatened by the U.S. troops' presence in South Korea. This national tragedy should be terminated.

All Koreans in the North and the South and overseas should wage a vigorous drive to implement the June 15 joint declaration this year, preserving the dignity and self-respect of the nation with a brilliant history spanning 5,000 years, and thus promote the cause of national independence, the cause of national reunification.

JoongAng Ilbo newspaper, Seoul, South Korea:

... It is time for the government to mold a practical solution that involves countries affected by the issue. On a theoretical level, the beginning of the resolution lies in turning back the clock to the point right after the 1994 Agreed Framework signed by Pyongyang and Washington that resolved a similar crisis a decade ago and resuming the fuel-oil supply suspended in November largely by the United States.

A logical step would be to find a way to guarantee the sovereignty and security that the North is so insistent upon, either through dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington or through a multinational channel. For its part, the North must take steps to refreeze its nuclear program in accordance with the 1994 agreement. It must also dismantle the enriched-uranium nuclear program, either before or simultaneously with the sovereignty guarantee.

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