Making Efforts Toward a Peaceful Resolution of the North Korean Nuclear Issue
Significance of the North Korean Nuclear Issue
North Korea's nuclear program is a matter of grave concern for the international community. It seriously threatens the peace and security of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia and undermines the international non-proliferation regime. Over the past twenty years, the ROK government and concerned countries have made great efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.
Developments of the North Korean Nuclear Issue
Tackling the North Korean nuclear problem has seen progresses and setbacks since 1993, when North Korea announced its intention to withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty(NPT).
Under the Agreed Framework, concluded between the US and North Korea in 1994, North Korea's plutonium production at Yongbyon was frozen for several years. However, the US's suspicion of North Korea's secret uranium enrichment program and North Korea's admission of the existence of the program led to a breakdown of the agreement in 2002, with North Korea once again withdrawing from the NPT and restarting nuclear activities.
The Six-Party Talks, consisting of North and South Korea, the US, Japan, China and Russia, was launched in 2003. The Six-Party process made a few progresses such as the adoption of the「Joint Statement of the Fourth Round of the Six-Party Talks」in September 2005 and a couple of subsequent agreements in 2007. However, the process was brought to a halt in December 2008 due to North Korea's uncooperative attitude regarding the declaration and verification of its nuclear programs.
North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in 2006 and another one in 2009, explicitly revealing its intention to possess nuclear weapons. Furthermore, North Korea's surprise revelation of its uranium enrichment facilities at Yongbyon in 2010 confirmed the suspicions of the international community thus far.
At the US-DPRK dialogue held in February 2012, the two sides concluded the "Leap Day deal", in which North Korea agreed to implement the pre-steps, raising expectations that there will be progress on the denuclearization process. However, North Korea's long-range missile launch on April 13 effectively broke down the "Leap Day deal". North Korea continued to escalate tensions in the region by newly stating in its constitution that it has become a nuclear state, launching another long-range missile in December and conducting its third nuclear test on February 12, 2013.
The ROK Government's Approach to the North Korean Nuclear Issue and Future Tasks
The international community will under no circumstances acknowledge North Korea as a nuclear state. Also, North Korea will no longer be able to repeat the past pattern in which it gains concessions from the international community with threats and provocations while neglecting its obligations. However, a different future will be available to North Korea if it refrains from provocations and complies with its international obligations and commitments under relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and the 2005 Joint Statement.
The ROK government will continue on with the two-track approach toward North Korea. It will respond resolutely against North Korea's provocations and wrongdoings, but remains open to genuine dialogue if the North chooses to take a different path. The ROK government will continue to cooperate closely with the international community in order to achieve progress on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.