Go to Contents Go to Navigation

(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Jan. 12)

All News 07:22 January 12, 2021

Don't turn the clock back
North Korea should not build up nuclear arms

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who was endorsed as general secretary of the reclusive nation's ruling Workers' Party, Sunday, vowed to carry out foreign policies in accordance with measures taken by the United States and South Korea. Kim called on the U.S. to withdraw its hostile policy toward the North and for the South to comply with the 2018 inter-Korean agreement, during the party's eighth congress in Pyongyang, according to the official party newspaper, the Rodong Shinmum.

He stressed the principle of "strength for strength and goodwill for goodwill" in relations with the U.S., saying the key to establishing a new bilateral relationship hinged on the U.S. abandoning its antagonism toward the North. Kim also emphasized a "tit-for-tat" approach for the South. "We will react in equal proportion to the South's moves toward implementation of the inter-Korean accord."

Kim's message, delivered through the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), was taken to mean that he would not attempt to reach the South and the U.S. first though he would remain open to dialogue with them. With this, Kim has moved the ball into the court of Seoul and Washington.

He seemed to indicate that the Korean Peninsula will likely continue to see uncertainty and volatility for the time being, prompting the need for the Moon Jae-in administration to manage the security situation in a more stable manner. North Korea, for its part, should refrain from taking provocative actions, including long-range missile tests, which could heighten military tension here. The incoming Joe Biden administration should also seek dialogue with the North.

Describing the U.S. as its principal enemy, Kim said, "Whoever takes power, the U.S.' authenticity and its real intentions toward DPRK will never change. We should focus our external political activities on overwhelming the U.S." Kim also stressed that the North will strengthen its nuclear capabilities, including pre-emptive and retaliatory operations, while unveiling plans to develop diverse nuclear weapons such as nuclear-powered submarines.

We have to be concerned about the North's pursuit of a confrontational approach, as it might escalate tension and trigger a military buildup on the peninsula. Both Seoul and Pyongyang should abide by the spirit of the agreement reached in the inter-Korean summit in 2018, to realize arms reduction and ensure peace on the peninsula by building mutual trust rather than relying on military force.

Kim expressed regret over stalled inter-Korean relations, saying they have been brought back to the time before the 2018 Panmunjeom Agreement. What is noteworthy is Kim's statement that South and North Korea can make a new start toward peace and prosperity as seen three years ago. Though Kim said such a development depends on the South's attitude, efforts from both sides are essential.

The Korea-U.S. joint military exercise scheduled for March is crucial as it will be a turning point in resuming dialogue with the North or moving toward confrontation. We urge Moon and the incoming Biden administration to have a flexible approach to the drill to find a breakthrough in the deadlocked denuclearization talks.

Issue Keywords
Most Liked
Most Saved
Most Viewed More
Send Feedback
How can we improve?
Thanks for your feedback!