GLOBAL ECONOMIC VIEWPOINT
COLD ACCOUNTING OF ITS OWN INTERESTS WILL LEAD NORTH KOREA TO DISARM
Ra Jong-yil is national security advisor to the president of the Republic of Korea, Roh Moo Hyun, and former vice-chair of the KCIA (Korean Central Intelligence Agency). This excerpt is taken from a conversation with Global Viewpoint editor Nathan Gardels at the Blue House in Seoul last week.
SEOUL -- China's role in bringing change to North Korea is immense. China has become so important not only because, for the first time in modern history, it is playing a leading diplomatic role on the internatonal stage, but because China itself has changed. It has rapidly left its past behind and is adapting to the new realities of the present world order -- a normal trading order rather than a conflictive one. This has brought a globalizing, modernizing nation right to the border with North Korea.
The North Korean leadership knows that the only way out is to also become a normal member of the international community. Becoming a nuclear power cannot accomplish this, no matter how many weapons it can produce. If it goes down that path, it will not only mean trouble for relations with China, but obviously will be a grave matter to us in the South -- something it can ill afford since the volume of trade with us is now almost as great as with China.
In short, it has to change to survive. It cannot have its cake and eat it too.
Ultimately, what made formerly isolated countries like South Africa and, later, the Ukraine give up their nuclear weapons was this same recognition that they couldn't join the community of normal nations as long as they retained them. As vital as a rigorous inspection regime is to any solution of the North Korea crisis, in the end what will ensure its disarmament is a cold accounting of its own interests.
(c) 2003, Global Viewpoint. Distributed by Tribune Media