Engaging North Korea for peace

By Sajjad Malik
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, August 12, 2017
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The UN Security Council has approved new sanctions against North Korea for continuing to conduct missile tests. [File photo]

The UN Security Council has approved new sanctions against North Korea for continuing to conduct missile tests. These were unanimously adopted after China and Russia supported the move.

The unanimity thus shown is a rare international gesture towards the threat posed by the nuclear weapons and missile systems of North Korea. It is a message that Pyongyang cannot, with impunity, continue to defy the world for an indefinite period.

The sanctions aim to plug loopholes used by North Korea to generate revenues. Trade in coal, iron and some other items are now been banned. Countries have also been barred from employing cheap North Korean labor.

The sanctions with full implementation would deprive the country annually of almost U.S.$1 billion of foreign revenue, allegedly used by it to develop nuclear and missile programs. According to experts, however, the revenue loss may also seriously impact the general public’s social and economic conditions.

The reaction by North Korea against the new sanctions shows they are going to hurt. Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho, in an aggressive statement on the sidelines of an Asian regional security conference, said his country would never barter away its nuclear and missile programs.

He also said that nuclear weapons were specifically aimed at the United States. However, any other country joining the U.S. in the war against North Korea will automatically lose its immunity from potential nuclear attack.

This is indeed a very grim warning by a country that has no qualms about threatening another nation with nuclear weapons. It is grim because this is only region that has experienced nuclear attack (Japan in 1945) and therefore knows what horrors this brings.

This makes it more urgent for the international community to find ways to address the issue of North Korea. The country is a test case for the diplomatic and strategic skills of leading international players.

So far, there have been peace talks, tough talks and offers of economic returns, but nothing has worked. Instead, North Korea has carried out nuclear and missile tests in defiance of the world. It has created more tension and bitterness.

It was believed that China could use its leverage to create an environment for talks. China has been trying to improve the situation through its diplomatic efforts but it doesn’t seem to be working. The North Korean leader is not ready to listen, preferring to send tough signals through missile testing.

The latest missile test of July 28 raised anxiety to a new level because it showed a potential to hit several places in the United States. The situation is critical for Donald Trump as he came to power by promising to make America safer.

Trump would come under great pressure if he is confronted by North Korea with its missiles able to hit deep inside America.

The worrying point is that North Korea is not stopping. Reports in the Western media suggest that it is working on more sophisticated technology to develop missiles; however, it is not known as yet if it has the capability to manufacture smart strategic weapons that can easily be fitted on long range missiles.

Tempers are high, but the situation demands strategic restraint, especially on the part of United States. It should exhaust all options for peaceful resolution of the issue. Talks are the key to create an environment for trust.

It is important to tell the North Korean leader that his actions are dangerous for his country, the region and the world. He can gain a lot by opting for a path of development and cooperation instead of confrontation and provocation.

He should also know that his antics would not drive away America from the region, but would make its presence deeper, more intrusive and for longer period. A war situation would further delay the dream of uniting Korea and creating peace and prosperity.

In the prevailing atmosphere, no single nation can use its power in defusing tension. It is collective responsibility and every stakeholder should play role for peace. The focus should be talks, which should be held without any prior conditions.

Sajjad Malik is a columnist with China.org.cn. For more information please visit:


Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of China.org.cn.

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