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North Korea rattles its neighbors
An editorial / By Dale McFeatters
Scripps Howard News Service


May 23, 2005

North Korea, in its own oblique way, has hinted that it may return to the six-power talks over the future of its nuclear-weapons program. That in turn may signify a recognition in Pyongyang that if it detonates a nuclear device bad things will happen, beginning with stiff international sanctions.

China, North Korea's biggest patron, has begun showing impatience with North Korean dithering over returning to the nuclear talks that it broke off last June. And while China has until now opposed harsher sanctions, a nuclear device would likely reverse that position.

And there have been broad hints that if North Korea pushes ahead with a nuclear arsenal, Japan and South Korea would do likewise. That means, with Russia and China on its borders, North Korea would be surrounded by bigger and richer nuclear powers.

At a meeting at the United Nations between North Korean and American diplomats, the United States said it recognized North Korean sovereignty and repeated that it would not attack North Korea, the fear of which enables Kim Jong Il to keep his terrorized subjects in a state of alarm.

The South Koreans have urged Pyongyang to respond to this olive branch, and a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman did reaffirm the nation's intention - for whatever that's worth - "to peacefully resolve the issue through dialogue and negotiations."

That would be wise because even Russia is speaking out. On a visit to Japan, Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, chief of the general staff of the armed forces, said, "Today it is necessary to do everything possible in order not to allow North Korea to conduct tests." He added, "We simply must not allow the testing or existence of nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula." Baluyevsky's remarks were echoed by his Japanese counterpart, the Associated Press said.

This is welcome evidence that the other nations involved in the six-power talks are now taking the North Korean nuclear threat as seriously as the United States.


Contact Dale McFeatters at McFeattersD(at)
Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service,

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