Opinion and Editorial

Rising tensions

Filed on January 24, 2013

AFTER KIM Jong-un hinted at the possibility of reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula during his speech to mark the New Year, things seem to have taken a drastic 180-degree turn.

The international community and the North Korean leadership have again locked horns over the latter’s nuclear programme. The UN Security Council has passed a resolution condemning North Korea’s recent missile test and warned against serious consequences if the country conducts another missile test. The new resolution pledged “significant action” if North Korea went ahead with its third nuclear test. Moreover, the belligerent nation’s space agency and a number of trading houses and individuals were added to existing list of sanctions.

Following this grave warning — initiated by the US and surprisingly endorsed by North Korea’s top ally China — North Korea reacted angrily by releasing a statement that it will continue to fortify its “nuclear deterrent” and will not consider the possibility of denuclearisation.

These rising tensions have again dimmed the possibility of an amicable resolution to the cold war on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea is basically a highly insecure state, with its leaders having a typical siege mentality. Surrounded by two hostile, democratic neighbours — South Korea and Japan — and threatened by the US influence in the Korean Peninsula, the communist regime has tried to tenaciously cling to power by imposing stringent controls on foreign travel, shutting itself to foreigners and information, and developing a nuclear programme. By issuing threats and warnings to North Korea, the international community ensures that the country’s leadership assumes a strongly defensive posture and closes all doors to negotiation.

The right way to deal with North Korea is by engaging the country’s leadership in dialogue. Kim Jong-un, just like his father, wants to use his country’s nuclear programme to get concessions from the international community and ensure his regime’s survival, amid a hostile environment. Neither sanctions nor threats will be effective in containing North Korea’s nuclear programme. So it’s about time that the international community revives the stalled six-nation talks to deal with the issue of the Korean Peninsula’s denuclearisation.

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