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Nuclear threat at new stage

Nuclear threat at new stage

The following editorial appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Wednesday:
North Korean's announcement Tuesday that it will conduct a nuclear test at an undisclosed future date suggests that Pyongyang is further escalating its desperate brinkmanship as the net put up by the international community around it tightens.
North Korea has yet to say when and where it will conduct the test. But Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Aso expressed a strong sense of caution, saying North Korea's actions in the past suggested that it could be expected to make good on its threat fairly soon.
If it goes ahead with the test, North Korea would provide concrete proof of its declaration that it has nuclear capability, and the development of nuclear weapons would enter a new stage.
This would pose an extremely serious threat to peace and security in the region. The international community can hardly overlook such a situation. As Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, the international community would have no choice but to adopt a stricter stance toward North Korea than it did when Pyongyang test-launched missiles in July in spite of warnings from the international community.
Some observers say it is possible that North Korea will conduct a nuclear test in the near future. It also was reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il himself expressed to Russian and Chinese diplomats in Pyongyang his desire to push ahead with an underground nuclear test.
Why is North Korea so determined to conduct a nuclear test?
Its main aim may be to persuade the United States to change its stance on strengthening sanctions against Pyongyang, such as freezing North Korean-linked bank accounts, and to draw the United States into a direct dialogue with Pyongyang.
In July, the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution denouncing North Korea for its missile launches. In addition, on the basis of the UNSC resolution, Japan and Australia have begun imposing financial sanctions on North Korea. The series of sanctions is said to have badly hurt Pyongyang.
According to a statement by the North Korean Foreign Ministry, Pyongyang will conduct a nuclear test but will not use nuclear weapons first or spread them beyond its border. It also said in the statement that it will make efforts for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a goal confirmed in the joint statement for the six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear development in September 2005.
But if North Korea pushes ahead with the nuclear test, the international community will judge the North Korean Foreign Ministry's statement to be hollow.
Using China's leverage over North Korea will be indispensable to coax Pyongyang back to the six-party talks with the aim of urging it to exercise restraint and pressing it to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
Abe plans to visit Beijing on Sunday to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao and then travel to Seoul on Monday to hold talks with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun. Of course, Pyongyang's announcement that it will conduct a nuclear test will be one of the major items to be discussed at the summit meetings.
The summit meetings will be a good opportunity for Japan to mend bilateral relations with the two countries, with which Japan has been unable to hold top-level talks recently. Abe said in his policy speech that he would take a firm stance diplomatically. As he approaches a key test of his diplomacy, we hope Abe will make every possible effort to take effective and concrete measures to dissuade North Korea from conducting a nuclear test.


Updated : 2021-07-30 22:57 GMT+08:00