THE NEWEST NORTH KOREAN CONUNDRUM: A COMMENT.
"I want to commend President Lee for his strong and dignified speech today. It was a testament to his leadership, and to the character and resolve of the South Korean people. We have consulted closely with the Republic of Korea, and we will continue to do so as we move forward. I will be traveling to Seoul on Wednesday for further discussions. I have also had in-depth conversations with the Japanese leadership, and I am in the midst of intensive consultations with the Chinese Government on this issue. My colleagues in the United States Government, including Secretary Gates and others, are also actively engaging countries in the region. The United States fully supports President Lee's responsible handling of the Cheonan incident, and the objective investigation that followed, which we and other international observers joined. The measures that President Lee announced in his speech are both prudent and entirely appropriate. The Republic of Korea can continue to count on the full support of the United States, as President Obama made clear when he spoke to President Lee last week.
First, we endorse President Lee's call on North Korea to come forward with the facts regarding this act of aggression and, above all, stop its belligerence and threatening behavior.
Second, our support for South Korea's defense is unequivocal, and President Obama has directed his military commanders to coordinate closely with their Korean counterparts to ensure readiness and to deter future aggression. As part of our ongoing dialogue, we will explore further enhancements to our joint posture on the Peninsula.
Third, we support President Lee's call to bring this issue to the United Nations Security Council. I will be working with Ambassador Rice and our Korean counterparts, as well as Japan, China, and other UN Security Council member states to reach agreement on a way forward in the Council.
Fourth, President Obama has directed U.S. Government agencies to review their existing authorities and policies related to North Korea, to ensure that we have adequate measures in place, and to identify areas where adjustments would be appropriate.
As I have said, the path that will lead North Korea to security and prosperity is to stop its provocative behavior, halt its policy of threats and belligerence toward its neighbors, and take irreversible steps to fulfill its denuclearization commitments, and comply with international law....Okay. As I said, we are in the midst of very intensive consultations with the Chinese Government on this issue. It would, again, be premature for me to discuss details of those conversations. But I can say that the Chinese recognize the gravity of the situation we face. The Chinese understand the reaction by the South Koreans, and they also understand our unique responsibility for the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
As I said in my statement earlier today, we have cooperated very well with China to respond to North Korea's provocative actions last year, and we are discussing how we will be able to cooperate equally effectively in this context, as well. It is part of the -- obviously, a category of its own, when it comes to the strategic and economic dialogue.
But I have to say that we are off to a very good start, with respect to the dialogues. We spent in a very small group at dinner last night about two-and-a-half hours discussing important matters. I have just completed another small group discussion with about -- of about two-and-a-half hours. So, the Chinese are taking this very seriously, and recognize the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. And we will continue to work with them on the way forward.
We are working hard to avoid an escalation of belligerence and provocation. This is a highly precarious situation that the North Koreans have caused in the region. And it is one that every country that neighbors or is in proximity to North Korea understands must be contained. So that is what we are working to achieve. And, at the same time, to send a message to North Korea that we are not simply resuming business as usual, that we intend to work with the international community to create a climate in which both consequences are felt by North Korea, and working to change their behavior, going forward, to avoid the kind of escalation that would be very regrettable".
Secretary of State Clinton, "Briefing on the Republic of Korea," 24 May 2010, in www.state.gov
"UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed hope on Monday that the Security Council would take prompt actions against Pyongyang in the wake of a probe that found North Korea had sunk a South Korean warship. 'I am confident that the council, in fulfilling its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, will take measures appropriate to the gravity of the situation,' Ban said at a news conference in New York.
Forty-six sailors died when the 1,200-ton Cheonan corvette sank on the night of March 26 near the disputed Northern Limit Line in the Yellow Sea after a sudden explosion. A team of international investigators confirmed last Thursday suspicions that the ship was destroyed by a torpedo launched from a North Korean submarine. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said on Sunday his country would take the case of its sunken naval ship to the UN Security Council. North Korea has reacted angrily to the accusations, saying it would withdraw from the nonaggression pact with South Korea if Seoul continued to accuse Pyongyang of sinking one of its warships.
The two countries remain technically at war as their 1950-1953 conflict ended only in an armistice. Naval clashes between the South and the North over the disputed sea border took place in 1999, 2002 and last year. The conclusions of the investigation led to a further deterioration of the already sour relations between the two Koreas and have jeopardized international efforts to stop Pyongyang's controversial nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development programs.
Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, said on Monday that the council's prompt action would also contribute to the early resumption of the six-party talks 'to address [Pyongyang's] nuclear issues and other outstanding concerns.'
Talks on North Korea's nuclear program, involving Russia, Japan, China, the United States and the two Koreas, stalled in April last year when Pyongyang pulled out of the negotiations in protest at the United Nations' condemnation of its missile tests.
Russia and China, both permanent members of the UN Security Council, called last week for North and South Korea to exercise restraint in reacting to the results of the investigation.
UN Chief urges Security Council to take against N. Korea," 24 May 2010, in www.en.rian.ru.
"The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, accordingly, formally declares that from now on it will put into force the resolute measures to totally freeze the inter-Korean relations, totally abrogate the agreement on non-aggression between the north and the south and completely halt the inter-Korean cooperation.
"In this connection, the following measures will be taken at the first phase:
"1. All relations with the puppet authorities will be severed.
"2. There will be neither dialogue nor contact between the authorities during (South Korean President) Lee Myung Bak's tenure of office.
"3. The work of the Panmunjom Red Cross liaison representatives will be completely suspended.
"4. All communication links between the north and the south will be cut off.
"5. The Consultative Office for North-South Economic Cooperation in the Kaesong Industrial Zone will be frozen and dismantled and all the personnel concerned of the south side will be expelled without delay.
"6. We will start all-out counterattack against the puppet group's 'psychological warfare against the north.'
"7. The passage of south Korean ships and airliners through the territorial waters and air of our side will be totally banned.
"8. All the issues arising in the inter-Korean relations will be handled under a wartime law.
"There is no need to show any mercy or patience for such confrontation maniacs, sycophants and traitors and wicked warmongers as the (South Korean President) Lee Myung Bak group."
KCNA [North Korea] News Agency, "Text from North Korean Statement," 25 May 2010, in www.reuters.com.
It was rather commonplace two, three, four or five years ago, to lambast the Bush regime for the breakdown of the negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear programme. It was argued by many (myself included) that the failure of the negotiations to advance was caused by the hard-line stance of Bush, Cheney and Bolton, et. al. It was stated on many occasions that once this crew changed policy back to what it was under President Clinton, that progress would be made and the situation would revert back to what it was in the mid to late 1990's. Well, in the latter part of the Bush years, policy did revert to what it was under Clinton, pourparler were initiated and while a time, some progress was made, the fact of the matter is that the North Korean regime still has not in fact made a positive decision to give up its nuclear weapons programme. Which leads one to the opinion that there has been a misleading inference drawn by the behavior of the regime in Pyongyang. We all have been operating under the assumption that post hoc ergo propter hoc, the Kim Jong-Il, has been responding to outside influences and policies that he would only co-operate once that policies were made more 'attractive' and thus less 'hostile'. Unfortunately, as the policies of the regime, most especially its last coup de tet, the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel in international waters, appears to show that said policies are a a reflection of struggles, possible secession struggles going on in North Korea. With it is now said, the most recent operation intended to shore-up the position of Kim Jong-Il's son for the leadership once his father leaves the scene(see: "U.S. Implicates North Korean Leader in attack," 22 May 2010, in www.nytimes.com). Today's announcement that Pyongyang was breaking off relations with South Korea, ending all ties, commercial and otherwise with Seoul, is of a piece with a leadership clique which for the most part, does not appear to respond to outside influences but, is merely stimulated and reacts to the internal stimuli of power struggles and maneuverings inside the regime. Id. est., a classical case of Primat der Innenpolitik. Accordingly, and following from the same interpretation, I for one do not foresee anything like an actual outbreak of conflict between the two powers. This is merely another North Korean war of nerves with the outside world, and, especially South Korea and of course the USA. As soon as the succession struggle is over, one may hope that there will be a relaxation of tensions between the two powers, and, between North Korea and the much of the rest of the outside world. Until then infinite patience is required. But, au fond that is what good diplomacy is all about even with the North Koreans.