North Korea: Diffusing A Ticking Bomb


South Korean Christians pray during a mass anti-North Korean rally in front of Seoul city hall. Tens of thousands Christians held a devotional service to criticize North Korea’s recent withdrawal from a nuclear arms pact and to support the presence of U.S. troops in South Korea

Rhee Dong-Min / REUTERS

Since North Korean action to agitate the standing nuclear controls agreements, the DMZ of just 2.5 miles in width and 156 miles in length has attracted renewed global concern. The DMZ separates one million North Korean troops and about 37,000 U.S. troops. Each day, highly trained troops from each side stand a mere 35 feet from each other. But although that may be routine, the extraordinary steps that civilized countries are taking to communicate with North Korea are critical, since in recent years North Korean missile tests have threatened Japan, and the DPRK’ s instability–along with advanced nuclear power–threatens neighbors near and far.

Although North Korea’s apparent anger seems to coincide with the presence of UN inspectors inside Iraq and military building up in the Persian Gulf, North Korea has set it’s blame for unhappiness on the United States.

The U.S. and other leaders have been trying to foster understanding and a harmonious solution to secure stability, yet the Korean News of DPRK (North Korea) on Sunday said "the U.S., the assailant, is taking such a high-handed and menacing attitude towards the DPRK, the victim, just like a thief crying "stop the thief", blustering that it would bring the nuclear issue of the DPRK to the UNSC and take sanctions against the DPRK. This is the height of shamelessness."

Also on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Powell had said that the nuclear issue of North Korea should be brought to the United Nations, and "concrete countermeasures including economic sanctions would be seriously considered."

In the evening, Powell met with Foreign Minister Tang of China, Foreign Minister de Villepin of France, and Foreign Secretary Derbez of Mexico, where State department spokesman Richard Boucher said he’d "generally characterize the discussions as recognition by all that Korea‚Äôs nuclearization has created an international problem, and .. how the international community can respond, including looking towards a meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors soon to probably refer the matter to the United Nations, as the Secretary mentioned this morning on one of the shows."

The DPRK state run news agency, Korean News, responded to Secretary Powell, saying he "fully represented the hostile intention of the Bush administration to shift responsibility for the nuclear issue."

And in concluding this statement, the DPRK seems to be issuing an ultimatum. Such as, either allow them [DPRK] to break their nuclear agreement and do as they wish with the nuclear programs, or if the US sides with Powell’s "countermeasures" to effect a peaceful resolution, the DPRK says they "will be left with no option but to counter it with the toughest stance".

South Korean President-elect Roh Moo Hyun is preparing to send special envoys to China and Russia as part of discussions in seeking a peaceful solution to the nuclear agitation from North Korea.. Adding to the efforts, according to Kyodo News, Russian President Vladamir Putin may be providing a package solution via special envoy to North Korean Vice Premier Jo Chang Dok.

The U.S. has met with both North and South Korean officials, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld capsulized the U.S. position to ABC this weekend: "The current [U.S.] policy is, as I’ve stated, that we’re on a diplomatic track."

In New York on Monday, Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov met with Secretary Powell and took part in UN Security Council meetings involving Iraq and North Korea. Ivanov told RIA Novosti that meetings were to address "anti-terror problems."

Also entrenched in the threat posed by North Korea to the region is Russian official Dmitri Rogozin, President of the Unification, Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Parliamentary Committee of the Republic of Korea. He told told RIA Novosti that "from the point of view of our Korean colleagues, this declaration [of withdrawal from the treaty] is extremely dangerous because, alongside the complication of the situation on the Korea peninsula, it also destabilizes the situation in neighboring countries which have no nuclear weapons but now may, with reference to the Pyongyang declaration, try to get hold of them".