| 「The The Future of Six-Party Talks」written by Kim Jin-Wook (the president of the Korea Research Institute for Military Affairs: KRIMA) is published on KDR(Korea Defense Review) pp.59-73.|
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The Future of Six-Party Talks
Kim Jinwoog 김진욱
The President of the Korea Research Institute for Military Affairs: KRIMA
이 글은 6자회담의 미래를 전망해 보는 글이다. 북한은 4월 5일 로켓 발사실험을 했고 또 다시 핵실험을 하려고 한다. 미국의 한 고위급 군 인사는 북한이 핵무기를 가지고 있다는 전제하에서 군사작전 계획을 작성하고 있다고 말했다. 군은 이상이나 정치적 프로파겐더가 아니라 현실을 바탕으로 작전을 수행하는 조직이기 때문에 그것은 당연한 대응이다.
북한이 핵을 가지고 있고 로켓 미사일을 가지고 있다면 6자회담이 무슨 의미가 있을까. 6자회담은 북한 핵을 폐기하자는 취지로 만들어졌기 때문에 일단 실패했다고 본다. 그러나 6자회담은 북한핵 폐기 이상의 동북아의 평화기구를 만들기 위한 중요한 토대가 될 수 있다. 중국이 중심국가가 되었다는 점은 대부분의 아시아가 공유하고 있는 동양적 가치를 바탕으로 세계평화에 기여할 수 있다는 점에서도 새로운 가능성을 찾을 수 있다.
두 가지 전제조건하에서 앞으로 6자회담이 의미가 있다고 본다.
첫째, 북한핵을 인정하고 북한을 당당한 국제사회의 일원으로 끌어내자는 것이다. 북한은 핵을 가졌으므로 이제 더 이상 핵을 평화적으로 사용하는데 따르는 보상을 요구할 권리가 없다. 또 핵보유국으로서 더 이상 미국이나 어떤 나라로부터 위협을 느끼지 않아도 된다. 북한은 이제 균형적이고 정상적인 국가발전을 시도해야 하고 핵보유국으로서 이 땅에 더 이상 핵확산이 일어나지 않도록 해야할 의무가 있다.
둘째, 신뢰를 회복하기 위한 약속 같은 것을 더 이상 하지말자는 것이다. 6자회담은 당사국들 사이에 불신을 조성하는 아주 안 좋은 선례를 남겼다. 북한도 미국도 서로간의 약속을 결코 믿지 않는다. 약속이라고 하는 것은 이제 아무런 의미가 없다. 아주 작은 것, 단 하나라도 앞선 나라에서 먼저 실천을 보여주는 것이 중요하다.
지금까지 많은 전쟁들이 종교와 이념, 문화와 가치의 충돌로부터 비롯되었다. 이 땅에 전쟁을 막기 위한 효용성이 있는 평화기구가 되려면 근본적으로 그런 전쟁의 원인들을 서로간에 확인하고 사전에 방지할 수 있는 틀이 필요하다. 6자회담을 다양한 종교와 이념, 문화와 가치를 공유하는 테이블로 만들어 나갔으면 좋겠다.
- 필자 주 -
North Korea has tested its capabilities of the Rocket Launching again on the 5th of April. There was controversy among related countries on if it is a satellite test why North Korea only has to be prohibited and the interpretation about the item 5 of UN resolution 1718 which says ‘the DPRK shall suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile programmed and in this context re-establish its pre-existing commitments to a moratorium on missile launching’. The United States, Japan and South Korea said that there is no difference between a satellite and missile launch because North Korea used the same long-range rocket, the Taepodong-2, which is designed to carry a warhead over Japan and at reached nearby Alaska. China, the nearest North Korea has to a major ally, and Russia called on all sides for calm and restraint. Moreover India said through the foreign ministry official spokesman “We are concerned at the possible destabilizing effect of these events in a volatile region. While it is for the Security Council to come to a conclusion on the nature of the event and its relationship to its earlier resolutions, we hope that response by all concerned will be restrained and proportionate”. On 14 October 2006, the U.N. Security Council has condemned the nuclear test by North Korea, and, unanimously adopted the Resolution 1718, which prevents the use of nuclear technology, large-scale weapons and luxury goods to North Korea and, permits the inspection of cargo to ensure compliance. Addressing a crowd in Prague during a European tour on 5th of April, US President Barrack Obama said “the launch today of a Taepo-dong 2 missile was a clear violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718, which expressly prohibits North Korea from conducting ballistic missile-related activities of any kind.”Now North Korea has possessed the Nuclear Weapons technology and Rocket Missiles. One of the US high military officials admitted they are planning the military operation in the supposition of that North Korea has nuclear weapons. The question arises that what is the use of six-party talks and what were the outcomes so far after eight rounds of meetings? This are the main points for considering seriously for the role of six party talks and its future ahead. Is there a need to abolish the mechanism of talks? Or, need of another mechanism for solution of such problem persists in East Asia. How it is possible to develop the six-party talks at this juncture?
2. Background of six-party talks
The six-party talks have the objectivity to find a peaceful resolution for the security concerns over the North Korean nuclear weapons program. There are functional backgrounds for six-party talks in the beginning. The first one was the cost of the construction of light water reactors. Under the 1994 ‘Agreed Framework’ between US and North Korea, two light-water reactors would be built in response to the closure of North Korea’s graphite-moderated nuclear power plant program at Yongbyon county. The agreement was broken down, because no major consensus was achieved since 2002. The US has promised North Korea to do it in the assumptions that North Korea will be collapsed soon like the other East European countries. There was a strong need around the North Korea for making fund in order to persuade North Korea for giving up its nuclear weapon because the US was not actually motivated to do that.
The other functional background; the most critical reason for multi-national talks among the member countries was how to guaranty the North Korea’s peaceful use of nuclear energy. NPT has allowed the states for the peaceful and proper civilian use nuclear energy; however, this has been misinterpreted by North Korea to cover its nuclear weapons program. How to guaranty the use of nuclear energy for civilian purposes in North Korea permanently is the question because North Korea has boycotted the IAEA inspection frequently. China on which North Korea depends for its essential energy will do guaranty that, and was supported by the US, Japan and South Korea in the beginning of forming six-party talks. There should be also other need for North Korea side on how to guaranty the compensating aid and the normalization of diplomatic relations with US for its free international activities. North Korea wants normalization of diplomatic relations as part of the bargain for giving up its nuclear weapons program. The US disagreed and later agreed to this condition, providing that the North Korea irreversibly and verifiably disarm its nuclear weapons program. So, North Korea also wanted China and other countries to guaranty the aids and normal relations with US through the scheme of multi-national talks. So, new multilateral approach?the Six-Party Talks involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia, and the United States, has begun with a new hope. These hopes are based largely on China’s particular role, which will be articulated in the following. Since 2003, there has been a series of meetings with six participating states in China. Five rounds of talks from 2003 to 2007 produced little net progress until the third phase of the fifth round of talks, when North Korea agreed to shut down its nuclear facilities in exchange for fuel aid and steps towards the normalization of relations with the US and Japan.
3. States’ intention for six-party talks
The six-party talks were a multi-national and multi-lateral. The intentions of the party-members have been discussed below.
China has the potential to guarantee the North Korea’s security, and to impose and enforce a denuclearization agreement. It has intended to use its leverage to force Kim Jong-il come to the negotiating table and to make a deal with the US and its allies. In that way China is going to establish a safety valve to prevent tensions from accidentally igniting an all-out war in East Asia. China also has a more far-reaching plan through the Six-Party Talks as the basis of a multilateral security mechanism in the region that will more reliably keep its economic development. Chinese leaders duly saw the Korean crisis through their policy of peace and development which couldn’t be denounced. China seemed to be somewhat more interested in regime stability and peace than in denuclearization of North Korea. That could be one of the reasons why Six-Party Talks was not successful to end with the North Korea giving up its nuclear capability.
China still has intentions to provide North Korea with the security guaranty and economic aid, propping up the North Korea’s entities and thereby providing China with corresponding diplomatic leverage. China’s leaders are openly engaged in ongoing consultations with North Korean leaders and Kim Jung-il anytime. Most significantly, this intention indicates again its hosting in the Six-Party Talks as a potential guarantor of any agreement with North Korea in the future.
The United StatesThe US holds the key to solve the North Korea’s nuclear problem. Since the Korean War, the US and North Korea have been hostile to each other. The issues about North Korea are mostly about the relationship between the two nations. It was also the US which led the United Nations sanctions on North Korea lately.
With a deep mistrust of North Korea, the US did not show any will to compensate the North Korea appropriately for dismantling its nuclear programs. The US tried to ensure the member countries to participate in the Six-Party Talks so that the US did not have to pay total compensation. The US wants to share the same strategic idea about North Korea nuclear issue with Chinese and Russian counterpart. North Korea’s desire to possess the nuclear weapon is concerned with that the US threatens its regime. Therefore, North Korea demanded persistently that the US have the bilateral talks with North Korea even there was the Six-Party Talks as an official channel. Nevertheless, US has already lost its trust on North Korea and tried to have other countries to guaranty the promise.
Except the US, Japan has the most threat from North Korea nuclear and missile. However Japan wants to solve other issues through the six-party talks such as the kidnapped Japanese citizen issue and missile problems with the other countries’ guarantee.
South KoreaThe relationship between South Korea and North Korea is somewhat complicated. They have same nationality; same task of re-unifying and consider each other as an enemy. South Korea is under direct threat from physical attack of North Korea’s nuclear weapon. For this reason South Korea participated in the Six-Party Talks so that it took the lead in solving the nuclear problem. In the Six-Party Talks, South Korea promoted economic interchange and humanitarian aids to North Korea so that North Korea came into international society. South Korea also has the task of lessening the economic and cultural gap between two countries in order to reducing the cost of re-unification through the six-party talks.
Russia has been friendly towards North Korea since long. It tries to maintain the relationship with North Korea; however its influence on North Korea is not any more powerful than before. For Russia, the Six-Party Talks is a process of continuing its influence on North Korea. Russia has the scheme for building political background gradually in East Asia.
4. Agreements in each round of Six-Party Talks
The Six-Party talks have been held eight-times and, since the 4th round it was held with several phases. Whenever each round has finished, there were meaningful agreements and attracted world’s concern but, nothing accomplished in result. After all, North Korea has Nuclear weapon and its important carriage rocket missile. The following points are the main contents of agreement on each round among the countries:
1st round (27 Aug - 29 Aug 2003)
There was no agreement made among parties in the 1st round.
2nd round (25 Feb - 28 Feb 2004)
In the 2nd round, the chairman announced seven articles. They were Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Peaceful Coexistence of Participating States, stressing the use of mutually coordinated measures to resolve crises. And, there was an agreement to hold the third round of talks with full participation during the second quarter of 2004.
3rd round (23 Jun - 26 Jun 2004)
The statements announced by the Chairman with eight articles including reconfirming the commitment to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, stressing specification of the scope and time, interval (between steps of) and method of verification. And, there is an agreement to hold fourth round of talks in Beijing before September 2005.
The 4th round of talks was held in two phases due to the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) meeting.
1st phase (26 Jul - 7 Aug 2005)
U.S. and North Korea have not agreed upon the ‘peaceful’ use of nuclear energy.
2nd phase (13 Sep - 19 Sep 2005)
There was an agreement on a Joint Statement of six articles.
1. Verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, observe and realize the 1992 Korean Peninsula Denuclearization Declaration, North Korea to agree to abandon all nuclear weapons and nuclear programs and return to the NPT as soon as possible. However, the states still respect North Korea’s stated right to peaceful use of nuclear energy.
2. The issue of the light water reactors will be discussed “at an appropriate time”
3. The US and the South Korea formally declare that they have no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula.
4. The US affirmed it has no intention to attack or invade North Korea and will provide a security guarantee to this effect. 5. The US and North Korea will work to normalize ties, respect each other’s sovereignty and exist peacefully together.
6. Japan and North Korea will work to normalize relations, in accordance with the Pyongyang Statement by settling historical disputes.
The other five Parties undertook to promote economic cooperation through strengthening bilateral and multilateral economic cooperation in energy, trade and investment sector. South Korea will channel two million kilowatts of power to North Korea in return. The Korean Peninsula peace treaty will be negotiated separately and the ‘Words for words’; ‘actions for actions’ principle will be observed, stressing ‘mutually coordinated measures’.
The 5th round of six-party talks was held in three phases. During this round, a lot of things have been happened between parties.
1st phase (9 Nov - 11 Nov 2005)
Joint Statements were issued based on six points. However it was essentially the same as the previous round’s statements, except for modifying the ‘words for words’ and ‘actions for actions’ principle to ‘commitment for commitment’, ‘action for action’ principle. There was no agreement have been finalized for holding the next talks, though it was planned in March 2006. There were some meaningful events occurred in between phase 1 and 2. In April 2006, North Korea offered to resume talks, if the US releases recently frozen North Korean financial assets held in a bank in Macau. The US treated the nuclear and financial issues separately; North Korea did not. North Korea then announced on 3 October 2006, that it was going to test its first nuclear weapon regardless of the world situation, blaming ‘hostile U.S. policy’ as the reason for the need for such a deterrent. However, it pledged a no-first-strike policy and to nuclear disarmament, only when there is a world-wide elimination of nuclear weapons. On 9 October 2006, North Korea announced a successful nuclear test, which was later verified by the US on 11 October. In response, the United Nations Security Council passed a Resolution 1718 unanimously as well as passing Chapter VII, Article 41. Sanctions ranged from the economic to the trade of military units, WMD-related parts and technology transfer, and a ban on certain luxury goods. Both the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation were quick to stress that these were not military-enforceable sanctions. The Resolution also gave the right to other nations to inspect any North Korean vessel’s cargo, although the People’s Republic of China had held reservations about this move, saying it wanted to avoid any military confrontation with North Korea’s navy. On 31 October 2006, the Chinese government announced that six-party talks would resume. U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill later stated that the resumption could happen in the next month and that North Korea had not set preconditions for the talks. The deadlock was broken by what BBC News called “frantic behind-the-scenes negotiations” by Beijing. However, Japan’s Foreign Minister Aso Taro stated that his country is not willing to return to the six-party talks until North Korea had renounced nuclear weapons. On 5 December 2006, the Russian envoy and former chief Russian negotiator for the six-party talks Alexander Alexeyev said that the talks were unlikely to resume before 2007 owing to the slow progress towards the talks and the fact that Christmas was coming up soon.
2nd phase (18 Dec - 22 Dec 2006)
The Chairman’s Statement issued all six parties to reaffirm their commitment to the Joint Statement made on 19 September 2005 in an ‘action for action’ manner. All six parties reaffirmed their positions, some of whose positions have differed greatly since the last time the parties met. Numerous bilateral talks were held, especially the Sunday before the talks (17 Dec 2006) and on the third and fourth days of negotiations. Separate bilateral talks were made concerning the freezing of overseas North Korean financial assets between the US delegation led by the US Treasury Deputy Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, Daniel Glaser, and the North Korean delegation led by the President of the DPRK’s Foreign Trade Bank, O Kwang Chol. These talks ended without consensus on a stance, but both delegations agreed to meet again in New York in January 2007.
Some events between phase 2 and 3
Both Kim Kye-gwan of North Korea and Christopher Hill of U.S. made positive remarks about the progress of in-between-rounds one-to-one talks held from Tuesday 16 January 2007 to Thursday 18 January 2007 in Berlin, Germany, pointing to “certain agreements” being reached. They met for six hours on Tuesday and one and a half hours on Wednesday. North Korea had viewed these talks as the “bilateral negotiations” it has wanted with the US for a long time, whereas the US referred to it as talks in “preparation for the six-party talks”. The US Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary Daniel Glaser hold talks with his North Korean counterpart, O Kwang Chol, in Beijing, China, on Tuesday 30 January 2007 regarding partial lifting of financial sanctions, thought to be around US$13 million of the US$24 million frozen in Macau’s Banco Delta Asia. China had confirmed on Tuesday 30 January 2007 that the third phase of talks would commence on 8 February 2007. North Korea was reported to agree to freeze their nuclear program in exchange for 500,000 tons of fuel oil a year, similar to the 1994 Agreed Framework just before the third phase of talks started after a pre-talk one-on-one meeting between Kim and Hill. There were rumors that a U.S.-North Korean memorandum of understanding had been signed before this phase, although this was denied by US Chief Representative Christopher Hill.
The 3rd phase (8 Feb - 13 Feb 2007)
Joint Statement issued on 13 February 2007, that North Korea will shut down and seal the Yongbyon nuclear facility, including the reprocessing facility and invite back IAEA personnel to conduct all necessary monitoring and verifications. In return, the other five parties in the six-party talks will provide emergency energy assistance to North Korea in the initial phase of 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil, to commence within 60 days. All six parties agreed to take positive steps to increase mutual trust, and make joint efforts for lasting peace and stability in Northeast Asia. Related parties will negotiate a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula at an appropriate separate forum. All the six parties agreed on establishing five working groups on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, normalization of North Korea-US relations, normalization of North Korea-Japan relations, economy and energy cooperation, as well as a joint Northeast Asia peace and security mechanism. The working groups will form specific plans for implementing the September 19 statement in their respective areas. All parties agreed that all working groups will meet within the next 30 days. Details of assistance would be determined through consultations and appropriate assessments in the working group on economic and energy cooperation. Once the initial actions are implemented, the six parties will promptly hold a ministerial meeting to confirm implementation of the joint document and explore ways and means for promoting security cooperation in Northeast Asia. China drew up a plan that was presented on 9 February 2007, building on the September 2005 agreement, it proposed that the Yongbyon 5MW(e) nuclear reactor be ‘suspended, shut down and sealed’ within two months in exchange for energy supplies and economic aid by the other five countries to North Korea. It also proposed to establish ‘four to six’ working groups on each of the outstanding issues not agreed on. Then the Japanese Foreign Minister Aso Taro was reported to applaud the draft, hailing it as a breakthrough. However, Japanese chief representative Sasae Kenichiro and US chief representative Christopher Hill were much more cautious, saying it was just a first step in a long process, but at least there was agreement by all parties on the fundamental points. North Korean chief representative Kim Kye-gwan said North Korea was ‘prepared to discuss initial denuclearization steps’, but was ‘neither optimistic nor pessimistic because there are still a lot of problems to be resolved’.
China held one-on-one talks with each of the other five countries on 11 February 2007. The six countries’ chief negotiators then had an hour-long meeting together in the afternoon. They did not announce any end date for this phase of talks after the meeting. China’s plan had run into some difficulties regarding the steps North Korea would take to denuclearize in exchange for aid. The Japanese chief representative claimed North Korea was demanding too much compensation in return for denuclearization. South Korea’s chief representative Chun Yung-woo said it was ‘unreasonable’ to expect a breakthrough on 11 February 2007. Russia’s chief representative Losyukov said that the chances of reaching a two-page joint statement are slim, and if this does not work out, a Chairman’s Statement will be issued. On 13 February 2007, Christopher Hill announced that a tentative deal had been reached between the negotiators, and a ‘final text’ was being circulated to the governments of the six parties for approval. Even before the deal had been approved, it was criticized by John Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations, who said that it sent ‘exactly the wrong signal to would-be proliferators around the world’.
1st phase (19 Mar - 22 Mar 2007)
On 19 March 2007, the US Chief Negotiator Christopher Hill announced that all of the US$25 million in funds belonging to the North Koreans in Banco Delta Asia that were frozen before were being unfrozen to reciprocate the positive steps the North Koreans have taken towards freezing their Yongbyon nuclear reactor and readmitting IAEA inspectors, with a future goal towards total nuclear disarmament of the Korean peninsula. However, this issue was only put on the agenda on the morning of the talks instead of beforehand, so the financial transaction ran into some problems in terms of time and being cleared (by the Bank of China) for the North Koreans. The North Korean, led by Kim Kye-gwan, refused to negotiate further until it received its money. The Americans (Christopher Hill, not Daniel Glaser) denied responsibility for the delay, citing it as a ‘Chinese matter’. The Chinese (Wu Dawei) in turn said “there wasn’t enough time to accomplish the transaction”. The Bank of China had been hesitant to accept the money as Banco Delta Asia had not been removed from the US blacklist despite having the funds in question unfrozen. Nevertheless, none of the five other parties saw this financial issue as posing any obstruction to the talks. “The resolution of the BDA issue is a question of time, not a question of political will”, Chun Yung-woo, the South Korean Chief Negotiator, said. The talks were abandoned as North Korea refused to proceed without receiving the US$25 million in their hands. The sixty day deadline was obviously not met, though none of the six parties made much of a hassle about it. The US had urged North Korea to meet its commitments as soon as possible, citing this matter was no longer a US one. Russia, China and South Korea had urged patience. Japan was still pressing for the abduction issue to be resolved. On 11 June 2007 Russia agreed to transfer the unfrozen North Korean funds from the Macao bank and transfer them to North Korea. On 14 July 2007, after receiving fuel aid from South Korea, North Korea declares it has closed the nuclear facilities at Yongbyon and says it is willing to dismantle its entire nuclear program. On 18 July 2007 IAEA inspectors verified that North Korea had closed its facilities.
Resumption of 1st phase (18 Jul - 20 Jul 2007)
The six parties expressed satisfaction with the constructive efforts made by all parties to advance the Six-Party Talks process and welcomed that productive bilateral consultations and coordination were conducted to enhance their mutual trust and improved relations with each other. The parties restated their commitment to the Joint Statement of 19 September 2005 and the agreement of 13 February 2007 and undertook to fulfill their respective obligations under those agreements in line with the principle of ‘action for action’. Later, North Korea confirmed its agreement to disclose all nuclear programs and disable all facilities related to its nuclear programs. And there was an agreement for the five working groups to meet before August to discuss plans for the implementation of the general consensus. Talks would resume in September to hear the report of the working groups and work out a roadmap for implementing the general consensus. After the end of the next phase of talks the six parties would hold a ministerial meeting in Beijing as soon as possible to confirm and promote the implementation of the 19 September Joint Statement, the 13 February agreement and the general consensus, and explore ways and means to enhance security cooperation in Northeast Asia. A deadline was not decided on during the talks until the working groups have a chance to meet. It was likely because the deadlines set in talks earlier in the year were not met. North Korea warned of a “crisis” over Japan’s refusal to fund energy assistance. Japan said it would not share the costs of the assistance until North Korea resolved the abductees’ issue.
2nd phase (27 Sep - 30 Sep 2007)
Reports from working groups heard and endorsed and Implementation of initial actions of 13 February 2007 Agreement confirmed. List of Second Phase Actions for Implementation of Joint Statement issued 2 October 2007. DPRK agreed to disable all nuclear facilities subject to September 2005 Joint Statement and 13 February Agreement, including the disablement of three facilities at Yongbyan by 31 December 2007, the 5 MW Experimental Reactors, the Reprocessing Plant, and the Nuclear Fuel Rod Fabrication Facility. The DPRK agreed to provide a complete and correct declaration of all its nuclear programs in accordance with the 13 February agreement by 31 December 2007. The DPRK and the US would increase bilateral exchanges and enhance mutual trust. The U.S. would fulfill its commitments to the DPRK (regarding the processes of removing the designation of the DPRK as a state sponsor of terrorism, and that of terminating the application of the Trading with the Enemy Act to the DPRK) in parallel with the DPRK’s actions, as based on consensus reached at the meetings of the ‘Working Group on Normalization of DPRK-US Relations’. The DPRK and Japan would hold intensive consultations to make sincere efforts to normalize their relations expeditiously in accordance with the Pyongyang Declaration.
In accordance with the 13 February agreement, economic, energy and humanitarian assistance up to the equivalent of one million tons of HFO (inclusive of the 100,000 tons of HFO already delivered) would be provided to the DPRK. Specific modalities would be finalized through discussion by the Working Group on Economy and Energy Cooperation. The Parties reiterated that the Six-Party Ministerial Meeting would be held in Beijing at an appropriate time. A final meeting was decided on before the end of 2007. However, it was never realized because despite the DPRK issuing a report of its inventory in November 2007 and thus claiming that since it fulfilled its side of the bargain, it was waiting for its promised shipment of aid, the US claimed the inventory list was definitely incomplete and until the complete list was given by the DPRK, aid would be suspended.
7th round (10 July 10 - 12 July 2008)
On the 7th round there was agreement about 3 principles related to the system of inspection which are facility visitation, document review and interview with technicians.
8th round (08 Dec 2008)
8th round has finished without any agreement because of North Korea’s rejection for sampling test.
5. Reflection of six-party talks
In August 2003, for the first time, the six-parties gathered in Beijing. No major consensus has been evolved and has been frequently interrupted. However, the agenda was to provide the most promising hope for a peaceful solution in East Asian region. Nonetheless, so far, eight rounds of Six-Party talks have shown some progress on fundamental principles, which may prove to the basis for an agreement that acceptable and more likely to be incorporated. However, these agreements have not reached on any solution to the North Korean nuclear policies, and the country is having the nuclear technology and rockets, even though UN resolution and ‘six-party negotiations’ does not allow.
China has pressurized North Korea to accept the multilateral talks in the beginning, and then to participate in a manner that leaves some hope for an outcome. China has the strong intention to push the North Korea to sign and implement a denuclearization agreement. However, it did not seem to intend imposing such an agreement. Whenever China asked to indulge and solved the situation of North Korean crisis, they always said that China never involved in internal policies of any other country. Moreover, China replied that North Korea doesn’t follow its suggestion ever.
Generally retrospections, China’s role in North Korea has been overestimated. North Korea is not the part of China. It is a very independent country, which has more pride than any other country. And, North Korea has played the seesaw for a long time in between China and Russia. It is naives that because North Korea is dependent on Energy from China, it will follow China’s suggestion submissively. North Korea is operating brinkmanship tactics with staking its existence. Energy is of course essential to people of North Korea but nothing to Kim Jung-il’s welfare.
The other important reflection is the lack of consideration for Chinese foreign policy. There were different perspectives of the foreign polices between China and US. China says that all countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal members of the international community, countries should resolve their disputes and conflicts peacefully through consultations and not resort to the use or threat of force and nor should they interfere in others internal affairs under any pretext. It also says repeatedly that China never imposes their ideology on others, nor allow other countries to impose theirs on it.
6. The Future of six-party talks
The Six Party Talks could not fulfill its purpose of abolishing North Korea’s nuclear weapon. When it comes to its effects, it failed in fact. Nevertheless, there is a possibility of the Six Party Talks developing into organization not only for abolition of North Korea’s nuclear weapon, though for more peace in the East Asia. There are two necessary preconditions for making the Six Party Talks more productive than the before.
First, admitting North Korea’s nuclear weapon and guiding it toward the international peace order. The economic and humanitarian aids are only given when North Korea does not have nuclear weapon or activates nuclear facility only for peaceful purpose. However, North Korea has already its nuclear weapon so that there is not any justification for receiving aids from bordering countries. In other words, North Korea should compete fairly with other countries as a normal state. And, it also must have some obligations for the peace of the World as the nuclear retention country. The Six Party Talks should not deny verbally the fact that North Korea has nuclear weapon; however it activates North Korea to open toward the international society and let it follow China’s way for its people.
Second, action is more important than nominal agreement in the future talks. Many agreements were made and broken down soon. Technical plans ended in stalemate in the relationship between the US and North Korea. Now and in the future, the US will not get desperate even if there is no agreement with North Korea. North Korea also does not put its trust in the US. Today, insignificant action could be bigger than any perfect large scope of agreements. If developed countries show their practices, then North Korea will follow them without hesitation. If it wishes to be helped, then the international society would be more positive towards North Korea for its development.
Some countries have argued that China is not playing its role actively. But, it has its own values and policy which are different from western perspectives. If US keeps trying to practice its own way to solve the problem of this area with its perspectives and not with Chinese point of view, then same failure will be repeated again. The worst situation could be occurred, for example, all negotiations would fail and military action could begin, then the China’s cooperation might be desperately required to succeed the campaign to control the war-like situation. So, it is very essential now to develop the Six-Party Talks more productive towards the peace and stability in East Asia.