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2016年1月11日 (月)

北朝鮮核問題 問われる中国の行動

--The Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 9
EDITORIAL: China crucial to moves to rein in North Korea
(社説)北朝鮮核問題 問われる中国の行動

In response to Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test, the U.N. Security Council will soon start discussions on a new resolution to impose additional sanctions on North Korea.

After North Korea’s third nuclear test three years ago, the Security Council issued a resolution warning that “further significant measures” will be taken if the country conducts another nuclear test.

There is a compelling case for stronger international actions to punish North Korea.

Members of the Security Council should unite and adopt a new resolution swiftly to make North Korea realize the serious consequences of its outrageous act.

However, it should be noted that the Security Council’s warnings and sanctions included in its past resolutions concerning North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have been ineffective.

The primary reason for this failure is a large hole in the international coalition to put pressure on North Korea. That hole is China, on which the secluded and isolated country has been heavily dependent both politically and economically.

Traditionally, the relationship between China and North Korea has been described as ties bound by a blood pledge because China fought for the North during the Korean War (1950-1953).

During the Cold War era, China and North Korea confronted the United States together as members of the communist bloc.

But China’s position in the world has changed since those days. It is now a leading power that has as much responsibility for international affairs as the United States and major European countries.

Beijing should now act in a way that does not allow North Korea to commit any more reckless acts that threaten global security.

In order to stop Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs from repeating and accelerating, China needs to take an action against its neighbor that represents a clear departure from its past pattern.

For years, China has continued providing support to North Korea, even though it has often been annoyed by Pyongyang’s behavior.

That is mainly because China is intent on preventing any situation that could lead to the collapse of North Korea, which could pose a serious threat to its own security.

Moreover, China’s three northeastern provinces near the border with North Korea have strong interdependent economic ties with the country. This makes it even more difficult for Beijing to impose effective sanctions against the North.

A disorderly collapse of North Korea would also have dire consequences for other neighboring countries, including Japan and South Korea. One big worry is a possible large-scale refugee crisis.

Even so, if China continues to support North Korea, the regime of Kim Jong Un will keep making the same mistakes. China should take the initiative in ratcheting up pressure on the regime.

At the same time, a fundamental solution to the North Korea problem requires active involvement by Washington.

What North Korean leaders want the most is a fresh round of talks with the United States for a peace treaty.

U.S. President Barack Obama has been sticking to a policy of refusing to start serious talks with North Korea unless the country takes concrete and convincing actions toward abandoning its nuclear arms program.

But this policy has failed to work.

The Obama administration may be responsible for the fact that it has allowed North Korea to conduct three nuclear tests during its tenure.

The United States needs to work with Japan, South Korea, China and Russia to figure out a new strategy for dealing with North Korea under the leadership of Kim Jong Un.

Starting dialogue with Pyongyang under the framework of the six-nation talks on its nuclear ambitions, for instance, would not necessarily mean making a concession to the country.

All the countries concerned are facing tough challenges in dealing with North Korea, but have no choice but to start making serious efforts to work out ways of playing more active roles through a combination of a hard and a soft approach toward Pyongyang.


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