Making Efforts Toward a Peaceful Resolution of the North Korean Nuclear Issue
November 15, 2011
The North Korean nuclear issue is a matter which concerns not only the Korean Peninsula but also the international community since it poses a serious threat to peace and stability in Northeast Asia and undermines the foundation of the international non-proliferation regime. The Republic of Korea (ROK) government has remained engaged in diplomatic efforts aimed at reaching a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue through the Six-Party Talks, which involve the two Koreas, the United States, Japan, China and Russia.
In 2005, the Six Parties adopted the「Joint Statement of September 19」, which provided the basic framework for the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue. The Statement stipulates that North Korea committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs, and that the other parties undertook to take steps to normalize relations with North Korea and to promote economic cooperation in the fields of energy, trade and investment. Despite North Korea's ballistic missile launches and its first nuclear test in 2006, the continued efforts of the participants of the Six-Party Talks led to outcomes such as the「Initial Actions for the Implementation of the Joint Statement」of February 13, 2007 and the「Second-Phase Actions for the Implementation of the Joint Statement」of October 3, 2007.
However, the Six-Party Talks have fallen into a stalemate since December 2008, following a failure to reach an agreement on how to verify the completeness and correctness of the declaration of nuclear programs submitted by North Korea in June 2008.
The ROK has been patiently exerting efforts to realize the denuclearization of North Korea, but North Korea has not yet shown any sincere change in its attitude toward denuclearization, venturing provocative acts while continuing to develop its nuclear capability.
In April 2009, North Korea launched a long-range rocket and started reversing disablement measures at the Yongbyon facilities, while refusing to participate in the Six-Party Talks. It even conducted a second nuclear test in May. Such provocations represent clear violations of relevant UN Security Council resolutions as well as agreements by the Six-Party Talks. The international community has responded in a resolute and unified manner to such provocations, in particular, by fully implementing UN Security Council resolution 1874 which was adopted on June 12, 2009.
In 2010, efforts of relevant countries to resume the Six-Party Talks was once again foundered by North Korea's military provocations such as its attack on the navy vessel Cheonan, and shelling of Yeonpyong Island. In November 2010, North Korea revealed a uranium enrichment facility for the first time, after years of denying suspicions raised by the international community.
The uranium enrichment program sought by Pyongyang is a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions and contrary to North Korea's commitments under the September 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks. The international community, including the UN Security Council, needs to take unified action against such illegal activity.
A peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue is essential for promoting peace and stability in the region. The ROK government remains committed to realizing complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea. To this end, the Republic of Korea is pursuing a Two-Track approach, leaving the door to dialogue open while faithfully implementing UN Security Council resolutions. Throughout this process, the ROK government will maintain close coordination with the international community, in particular, with the participants of the Six-Party Talks.
The ROK will continue efforts to realize denuclearization through the Six-Party Talks, which remains the most viable framework for addressing the North Korean nuclear issue. However, in order to make substantive progress in denuclearization through the Six-Party Talks, North Korea needs to first demonstrate that it is sincere about denuclearization by taking concrete actions before the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. With the inter-Korean dialogue as an essential first step, the participants of the Six-Party Talks will pursue various bilateral/multilateral contacts in order to induce change in North Korea's behavior.
With the resumption of the Six-Party Talks, the ROK will seek a comprehensive resolution to the North Korean nuclear issue through the Grand Bargain initiative, which aims at encompassing in a single and comprehensive agreement all steps related to North Korea's irreversible denuclearization and the Five Parties' corresponding measures such as security assurances, normalization of relations, and economic assistance.