Mikhail Gorbachev: The last general secretary of the Communist

Party of the Soviet Union and the last head of state of the USSR

 has a simple message on how to deal with North Korea: easy

does it - and talk rather than shoot.



Rossijskaya Gazeta, Russia

Mikhail Gorbachev: Dialogue Only Way to Resolve Korea Crisis


"Those who put all of their hopes on strengthening sanctions must consider two things. First of all, the North Korean people, who are experiencing tremendous deprivation, must not be held hostage to the North Korean nuclear issue. Second, the consequences of the collapse of a nuclear state could be disastrous."


By Mikhail Gorbachev, Former President of the USSR


Translated By Yekaterina Blinova


June 6, 2009


Russia - Rossijskaya Gazeta - Original Article (Russian)

Hwang Jang-yop, a former professor of Kim Jong-il at Kim Il-sung University and former Chairman of North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly. He defected in 1997 and is now President of the Committee for the Democratization of North Korea. Unlike Mikhail Gorbachev, who suggests clam engagement, Hwang suggest teh world ignore Kim Jong-il - and be nice to China.


BBC NEWS VIDEO: North Korea sentences America journalists to 'twelve years of hard labor,' June 8, 00:01:45WindowsVideo

The news of the North Korean nuclear detonation on May 25 of this year found me in the demilitarized zone of the Korean peninsula, where I had been invited to participate in an unveiling ceremony for the "Peace Bell" at the 38th parallel - the  demarcation line of the armistice that ended the Korean war in the early 50s of the last century.


Needless to say, at a press conference held that same morning, this dramatic event was the center of attention. In conversation with South Korean colleagues that day, I felt how worried and concerned they were - not only with their own security, but with the situation in North Korea. They expressed their heartfelt and deepest empathy with their compatriots stranded on the other side of the demarcation line and the hope for the future reunification of their country. I observed in all of my conversations not panic, but concern, very deep concern, about what will happen next.


But only recently it seemed that events were unfolding differently. Let us recall that in February 2007, the DPRK [North Korea] agreed to shut down its main nuclear reactor in Yongbyon. In June of 2008, it was partially dismantled, and images of its cooling tower exploding were shown by every TV network. North Korea also handed over to the United States and China 18,000 pages (!) of documentation on the development of North Korea's nuclear program, beginning with 1990. U.N. inspectors were given access to the DPRK's nuclear facilities. Hopes for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula seemed increasingly realistic.



And suddenly, as they say - a 180 degree turn. Access for the inspectors was terminated, deactivation of the nuclear reactor was suspended, the DPRK withdrew from the six-party talks with United States, China, Russia, Japan and Republic of Korea [South Korea]. And now - another nuclear explosion.


Diplomats and experts explain this shift in a number of ways. Some consider that actions of North Korea's leadership to be irrational; others see in them the desire to obtain additional assistance from international community for its desperate population and to resurrect the country’s economy; others believe the answer lies in the power struggle, which has become more acute given the failing health of the current leader of the DPRK. In South Korea, there are also those who believe that the hard line of the new South Korean president toward the North has proven counterproductive.



All of this calls for very serious reflection. But it's more important not to lose sight of the purpose of such analysis. The goal should be to find a way to resume the political and diplomatic dialogue - and in particular, the six-party talks. To switch gears to a military mode would be a mistake. But such calls are already being heard.


In Japan, the North Korean nuclear test has become an ace in the hands of those who support remilitarization. “In the sphere of defense, we must possess a sword as well as a shield,” declared a leading Japanese political analyst. In turn, the United States deputy secretary of defense says that the U.S. would be willing to support the “potential for preventive strikes against enemy bases.” From there, it's not far until the main “taboo” of the post-war Japanese policy is violated - abstention from nuclear weapons.


Such actions can only further exacerbate the situation and push the North Korean leadership into additional reckless steps. They would also undermine the unified international reaction which has emerged on the U.N. Security Council to the nuclear tests. I welcome the fact that without wavering, the United States, China, Russia and Europe took a common stand.


Right now, the Security Council is working on a resolution to concretize this reaction. What set of measures would be optimal in the current situation? It must be made clear to the North Koreans that their behavior will not remain without consequences. But those who put all of their hopes on strengthening sanctions must consider two things. First of all, the North Korean people, who are experiencing tremendous deprivation, must not be held hostage to the North Korean nuclear issue. Second, the consequences of the collapse of a nuclear state could be disastrous.    



As difficult as it may be, we must seek the political keys to solving this problem. From my own experience I know that negotiations on nuclear issues demand the very highest level of responsibility and a constructive political approach.



Daily North Korea: American Reporters Likely to Be Treated 'Relatively' Well

Yonhap News Agency: North Korea Promises to Fight U.S. with 'Willpower'

Daily North Korea: Top Korean Defector: 'Neglecting' Kim Jong-il is Best Approach

Korea Central News: America 'Wholly to Blame' for Nuclear Threat to World

Korea Central News: South Korea 'Declares War'

Daily North Korea: Why Did North Korea Hold a Nuclear Test Now?

Daily North Korea: Regime Change is Only Solution for North Korea

The Asia Times: Beijing Weighs its Options

The Hanyoreh: Paricipation in U.S.-Led Maritime WMD Control a Mistake for Seoul

JoongAng Ilbo: South Must Delay Transfer of Wartime Control from U.S. to South

Yonhap News Agency: Obama's 'Tough Challenge' from Stubborn Kim Jong-il


Much will depend on those members of “the big six” who have preserved channels of communication and influence with the DPRK. In particular, China maintains such a connection on the state and party level, and provides it with vital economic assistance. Therefore, China has a right, in all candor, to tell North Korea's leadership that all of this could end badly, first and foremost for North Korea itself. And it has a right to ask questions. For instance, from whence is this “threat to the sovereignty of the country” that the DPRK leadership offers to justify its nuclear tests? Is it rational to accuse the Security Council of “hostility” - which means China, Russia and Europe, which have exerted such great efforts to steer the problems of the Korean Peninsula away from an impasse?


The latest news out of the region is alarming. North Korea has declared that it no longer considers itself bound by the Armistice Agreement, has conducted several launches of missiles with varying ranges, and now, it may be preparing to test an intercontinental missile. The American and South Korean militaries have been put on high alert.


If we were to act according to the logic of “an analogous response,” which was used more than once during the “Cold War” years, it's possible that we could slip rapidly into a crisis with unpredictable consequences.


The art of politics consists in not turning a problem into a threat, and a threat into a military conflict. When you're in that region and speaking to people who are directly affected by this explosive situation, this truth isn't presented as an abstract inference, but quite explicitly - as a call not to let even the slightest possibility for a return to the path of dialogue pass. Because that is the way this and other problems of the region will be resolved.

















































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US June 9, 11:09pm]