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(EDITORIAL from The Korea Times on April 30)

All News 08:59 April 30, 2016

Discussing NK future
Stakeholders to ponder on rogue state after rogue's gone

There has never been greater consensus about North Korea among key stakeholders ― South Korea, the United States and China ― that this rogue state should be separated from its nuclear weapons.

Now is the time this momentum should be carried to the next stage so the stakeholder nations can and will start planning how to deal with the North after its dictatorship is removed, an increasingly likely scenario because Kim Jong-un, the third-generation heir of the Kim dynasty, is obsessed with continuing on the path toward becoming a nuclear state at whatever cost.

This three-party dialogue should put top priority on the unification of the two Koreas to undo the separation of convenience dictated by the big powers, including the U.S., at the end of World War II and make Korea one country to act as the linchpin of peace in the increasingly volatile region.

First, here is how the three stakeholder nations are united on the North.

Xi Jinping, president of China, the erstwhile only benefactor of the North, Thursday said that he would not allow war or chaos on the Korean Peninsula. Although his remark may sound hegemonic, the fact that he said it amid speculation over the North's impending fifth nuclear test to the audience of Asian foreign ministers in a Beijing-led security forum must have sent an unequivocal message to Pyongyang.

President Park Geun-hye was also quite adamant, saying, "There will be no future for the North if it presses ahead with this nuclear test."

In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama made a rare reference to the North as he said that his country could destroy the North but refrained from doing so because of human costs. His remarks came when the North threatened to turn Washington into a bowl of fire.

Ironically, the North test-fired three Musudan intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBM), two on Thursday and one two weeks ago, but all three proved to be failures. Since the Musudan is an IRBM that is fired from mobile or submarine platforms, with a range of 3,000 kilometers, these consecutive failures may likely mean the North's missile threat is quite exaggerated.

It is strongly speculated that these failures may force the North to conduct another nuclear test for the purpose of heightening the celebratory mood before the Workers' Party convention next week. But rather, the test runs the risk of adding to the list of failures, raising more questions about the North Korean leader's ability to govern as his nation is already hit by an international trade embargo.

For a country like North Korea that knows only the reign of terror, any questions about its leader could only reveal weaknesses he cannot afford to show if he wants to cling to power. Already people in Pyongyang, now cordoned off for the coming event, may be whispering about their doubts that the young dictator may be as scary as his father and grandfather.

This makes plausible a scenario that the rogue state may lose its rogue. As Xi warned against chaos and war on the Korean Peninsula, the three stakeholder countries should waste no time starting how best to deal with such a power vacuum and usher in the era of the united Korea that meets the best of their interests. Now is never too early for embarking on such tri-party dialogue.

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