International Information Programs
February 15, 2005

February 15, 2005





**  Papers agree that the DPRK's "brinkmanship" is a "dangerous method of bargaining."

**  Leftist observers stress the need to "beef up diplomatic efforts."   

**  Outlets stress that the "most important voice" is that of China.

**  Conservative dailies back "substantial pressure," such as sanctions, on North Korea.




'Extortion to recover international aid'--  Papers judged it "impossible to interpret" whether North Korea actually has nuclear weapons, but termed its latest "brinkmanship tactic" an attempt to "obtain political and economic concessions."  Analysts opined the North's withdrawal from the six-party talks and its "sinister" nuclear threat are just "explicit blackmail"; Russia's business-oriented Vedomosti noted that "Pyongyang badly needs massive economic assistance."  Some expressed concern that Tehran will be "tempted to imitate" the DPRK and seek "nuclear trump cards"; Germany's left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau said Tehran "realizes that improved armament increases security." 


Resolve the issue 'diplomatically and peacefully'--  Liberal media agreed the "moment to stress diplomacy has come."  Still seeing "chances for diplomacy," Japan's Tokyo Shimbun supported "efforts towards resuming" the six-party talks.  Papers labeled the "military option...not an option at all" given the "risk of provoking a nuclear war"; Pakistan's populist Khabrain stated that "force must not be used against North Korea."  Advocating "patient and tactful" diplomacy to lessen "North Korea's paranoia," these writers advised the U.S. to "not be too tough towards the DPRK."  Asian critics blasted the "stubbornness and inflexibility" from both the U.S. and DPRK; India's left-of-center Deccan Herald said the "primary responsibility...for this dangerous situation" lies with "Washington's belligerent rhetoric."


Beijing's 'vital role'--  Dailies agreed Beijing holds the "key to resolve the issue," as it is "probably the only player Pyongyang still listens to."  Britain's conservative Times said China "must apply" pressure on an "extremely vulnerable" North Korea.  Seoul's moderate Hankook Ilbo underscored "close cooperation from China" to bring the DPRK back to negotiations, while liberal writers noted that North Korea's "sudden revelation" dealt a "diplomatic black eye" to Beijing given its efforts to "enhance its regional political status" by hosting the six-party talks. 


A 'highly repressive and dangerous' regime--  Media said that the DPRK's true motives are "impossible to interpret confidently."  Rightist Asian outlets proposed "referring the North Korean issue to the UNSC" so it can "embark on economic sanctions"; South Korea's Dong-a Ilbo saw little "possibility of resolving the North Korean nuclear issue through dialogue."  Several papers dismissed "North Korea's bluff" as "nonsense"; Canada's left-of-center Vancouver Sun said it would "be wise not to get too excited" over the North's "bargaining ploy."  Other analysts acknowledged the "hyper-real" danger of "WMD in the hands of...a psychopathic regime."  Argentina's leading Clarin saw the "nightmare of a nuclear holocaust."


Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888,


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprites foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 84 reports from 31 countries over 10  - 15 February 2005.  Editorial excerpts are listed in the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Try Diplomacy"


The independent Financial Times editorialized (2/11):  "The U.S. supports diplomacy with North Korea where it has almost no chance of succeeding, but not with Iran where success is possible.  This might not matter if broader efforts to bolster the treaty, in a manner that would increase pressure on Iran, were going Washington's way.  But they are not.  The US has won some support for a crackdown on loose trade in nuclear materials.  But this summer's international review of the treaty is unlikely to produce consensus on tougher international inspection of nuclear facilities or on proposals to halt the spread of nuclear reprocessing technology.  What might make all the difference is a diplomatic resolution of the proliferation problem that Iran poses.  But the key to that lies as much in Washington as anywhere else."


"Nuclear Folly:  An Ill Wind From Pyongyang Blows China's Way"


An editorial in the conservative Times read (2/11):  "Among the six, there is closer agreement between the US and Japan on making Pyongyang sweat for intransigence.  New Japanese maritime insurance laws could all but stop trade and remittances to North Korea.  The US is adamant that it will not reward bad behaviour--and this is spectacularly bad behaviour.  China could bring North Korea to a standstill tomorrow if it cut off oil supplies, and knows well how close its economy is to the edge.  North Korea is now extremely vulnerable to pressure.  China must apply it."


"North Korea Is An Exception That Must Not Prove The Rule On Nuclear Proliferation"


The left-of-center Independent opined (2/11):  "By withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and flouting all international nuclear regulations, Pyongyang has won a measure of diplomatic power which those with unrequited nuclear aspirations can only envy.  This sends precisely the wrong message to a country such as Iran, which seems even now to be weighing the pros and cons of defying the NPT in pursuit of its own energy and security interests--and is feeling the heavy hand of European and US pressure as a result.  This is a conundrum the treaty signatories must address when they meet in May for their five-year review.  North Korea may have won no friends.  As for influencing people, though, that is a different matter."


FRANCE:  "Pyongyang’s Atomic Threat"


Arnaud de la Grange contended in right-of-center Le Figaro (2/11):  “This is the first time the North Koreans are as direct and on the offensive....  The tone and the moment picked for this escalation has surprised everyone....  The main question is deciphering what these masters of blackmail have in mind. According to think tanker Bruno Tertrais, ‘it is either a continuation of the North Korean strategy of blowing hot and cold, or it is a strategic decision after concluding that negotiations are leading nowhere....  The West’s worst nightmare is seeing North Korea begin to export not only dangerous equipment but also fissile material to dangerous countries....  Are the North Koreans paranoid or very skilful diplomats?”


"Deadly Cycle"


Jean-Christophe Ploquin stated in Catholic La Croix (2/11):  “A dangerous scenario seems to be taking shape in East Asia....  The affirmation made by North Korea that it is an atomic regional power could have proliferation consequences: South Korea and Japan, who enjoy America’s protection, may begin to wonder if this is enough. Both could consider they need to acquire an atomic arsenal in order to establish a balance of terror....  All eyes are on the Bush administration, which is at odds with a situation it has no control over.”


"North Korea’s Blackmail"


Bernard Guetta said on government-run France Inter radio (2/11):  “The problem of North Korea is so real that no government contests the seriousness of what is at stake. The economic isolation of Pyongyang is such a nightmare that the only possible solution is to negotiate. The U.S. knows this. But it is not easy to negotiate with a country that wants everything and intends to get it....  North Korea also wants to be treated properly, to be listened to, and to be talked about. This is the message it has just sent. It is an answer to President Bush who included North Korea in the list of ‘tyrannies'....  Now the two countries are in a game of reciprocal deterrence....  One way or another negotiations will have to resume. But there is an added difficulty: China alone can help to glue the pieces back together. And the Chinese will not do it for free: they have their price.”


GERMANY:  "Dubious"


Karl Grobe noted in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (2/15):  "South Korea and the United States have decided to ignore North Korea's self-appointment as nuclear power....  But the arguments that have now been presented are diametrically opposed to arguments saying North Korea has to hide something, an argument that was also doubtful.  Washington can now not simply admit that its previous isolation tactic has failed.  The government in Seoul cannot say that the 'sun of peace' does not shine.  All this is not harmless.  If North Korea has the 'bomb,' it almost forces Pyongyang to carry out tests; if not, it must pursue its [nuclear] program to such an extent that it can deliver evidence that it has the bomb.  The confrontation exists between the United States and North Korea.  Between both countries there was the agreement from 1994 on North Korea's renunciation in return for material and diplomatic concessions.  That is why it is now up to the United States to approach the only door, North Korea has not slammed shut: bilateral talks if it is impossible to conduct six-party talks."


"It Is Now Up To Beijing To Act"


Peter Müller said in right-of-center Welt am Sonntag of Hamburg (2/13):  "With its nuclear announcement, North Korea kicked the diplomatic ball in its own net.  The calculation of Kim Yong-il's stone-aged regime is clear:  He wants America to make more concessions in the nuclear poker game....  He is thus challenging the U.S. that has little alternatives to further talks....  But, at the same time, North Korea is compromising its most important half-ally, China....  Thus far, Pyongyang could be sure of China vetoing any resolution in the UNSC against North Korea.  But the Chinese should make clear to the Stalinists in Pyongyang that their restraint will end if they do not quickly return to the negotiating table."


"Fire Under The Seat"


Harald Maass concluded in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (2/12):  "As long as North Korea does not test its nuclear bombs, its nuclear threat remains dubious.  This means that the chances for diplomacy have not yet been forfeited.  The most important voice is China...and Beijing already said it wants to continue the six-party talks.  North Korea's leader Kim Yong-il will hardly be able to reject this request....  China is likely to considerably increase pressure on Pyongyang and, if necessary, no longer deliver energy and food to North Korea.  Beijing's interests are clear: a nuclear arms race on the peninsula is to be prevented at all costs, since China would lose not only its nuclear hegemony in the region but an escalation of the Korean problem could also jeopardize the economic upswing.  Pyongyang will return to the negotiating table.  Contrary to the current criticism, the multilateral approach is promising.  As former protective powers, Russia and China have great influence on Kim's regime; Japan could offer a normalization of relations; South Korea is important as a cultural mediator, while Washington will play the key role.  Kim Yong-il is convinced that only an agreement with the U.S. can safeguard the survival of his regime.  Thus far, the Bush administration has not realized this geo-political danger.  Instead of seriously discussing security guarantees, Bush wanted to sit out the problems.  This is no longer possible."


"Life-Threatening Paranoia"


Andreas Zumach opined in leftist die tageszeitung of Berlin (2/12):  "It is right that the Iranian and North Korean governments have fooled the world for years.  It would be naïve to have confidence in declarations and promises of these governments today.  But it is also right that efforts to build the bomb in those two countries were massively promoted by the outside.  Early in 2001, the U.S. described both North Korea and Iran together with Iraq as an 'axis of evil.'  Since then, the U.S. several times declared both states as a potential target for conventional and nuclear military strikes…and the Iraq war even intensified the threatening situation for Pyongyang and Tehran.  It strengthened the illusion that only a bomb could offer reliable protection.  Even if one considers this an unfounded paranoia, it is taken seriously as a factor and must be overcome.  Iran and North Korea will give up their nuclear programs only if they get binding U.S. non-aggression guarantees, and if they are not unilaterally called upon to subject to international controls.  This can happen only in the framework of non-discriminatory, multilateral agreements which are also binding for other nations."


"Fear And Hunger"


Nikolas Busse commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (2/11):  "North Korea's statement that it possesses nuclear weapons does not mean that it is the case.  Only if foreign experts could see the bomb and test its pressure waves we would know for sure.  But this question is not important, because the U.S. have been acting on the assumption for some time that North Korea had already produced a limited number of nukes.  Washington has therefore never seriously considered a military intervention in the Far East, even at a time when the policy of regime change was seen as a key for remodeling the world order.  Kim Jong-il has reached his most important goal:  He will not share Saddam's fate....  North Koreans might have gotten the impression that Washington has turned its focus on other issues, given that President Bush did not mention them in his State of the Union Address.   But this is exactly the opportunity for new negotiations--although North Korea said it would not continue them.  Kim's last semi-ally China must play a vital role here.   Apart from Washington, the Asian superpower is probably the only player Pyongyang still listens to.  However, one thing must not happen:  Foreign countries must not simply accept after an appropriate time of outrage that another country was added to the list of nuclear powers.  Kim is an ambitious exporter of missiles and dangerous technology.  Those who allow him to do this nurture desires elsewhere."


"Sensation From Pyongyang"


Kai Strittmatter filed in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (2/11):  "Bush has simply ignored North Korea because he could not easily topple the tyrant there like in Baghdad.  At the same time, he does not want his grassroots to catch him pursuing negotiations with a person like Kim Jong-il.  It is right that there is no worse dictator than Kim, but the U.S. under Bill Clinton also negotiated with him.   And when Clinton's term ended, North Korea did not have the bomb.  Kim gained all his nuclear weapons under the Bush administration's watch, which had its eyes and ears closed."


"North Korea's Rationale"


Dietrich Alexander opined in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (2/11):  "It could well be that North Korea has nuclear weapons.  It should not surprise anybody, least the U.S., which has been assuming for some time that Pyongyang holds the technology.   But the timing of the disclosure is surprising as well as the crude announcement of the suspension of the multilateral talks.  This is a blow to China in particular, which moderated the talks.  The country is now facing a diplomatic disaster....  Pyongyang confessed at this particular time because of the tougher U.S. rhetoric, because it believes it cannot be attacked if it holds nuclear weapons, and because it wants to strengthen its position in regard of the superpower....  It is ultimately about improving the negotiating position.  The Stalinist North Korean regime has just played its most powerful trump card and wants to blackmail Washington in the next round of negotiations, which will take place despite Pyongyang's statement, because both sides are not interested in a war."


"A Frightened Regime"


Klaus Scherer announced on national ARD-TV's newscast Tagesthemen (2/10):  "Given the doctrine of preemptive attacks, it is possible that the regime feels frightened by the U.S. and develops new nuclear weapons.  Washington's policy is not credible at the moment.  The top diplomat Rice who encourages rapprochement should not describe North Korea as tyranny, also because the West has lost its credibility among the victims of tyrants.  Every day the Chinese police catch desperate deserters and return them to North Korea's thugs.  The West does not protest against that."


"North Korea's Hit"


Karl Grobe argued in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (2/11):  "The text and tone indicate that people in North Korea's government, who believe in threats and deterrent, gained the upper hand.  If that is true the dynamics of process have become dangerous.  North Korea's neighbors do not trust each other, but all of them have close relations to the U.S....  Pyongyang carefully analyses this without openly reflecting on it.  Its conclusion might be that the more disagreements there are between its neighbors and the U.S., the better it is for Kim's dynasty.  To deter the U.S. from striking against North Korea elevates the country's status and takes South Korea hostage.  This is dangerous for the world.  Not just Tehran will watch this closely and realize that improved armament increases security.  Above all, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction will be promoted.  And the international watchdog authority will be helpless.  North Korea cancelled treaties and caused an universal escalation."   


"Holding The Bag"


Martin Fritz said on regional radio station Norddeutscher Rundfunk of Hamburg (2/10):  "The U.S. North Korea policy has failed.  Its objective was to prevent North Korea from becoming a nuclear power....  Only when the U.S. changes its hostile approach, said North Korea, could the country lower its nuclear shield.  Pyongyang has picked a good time for leaving Washington holding the bag.  The regime exactly knows that the U.S. must take neighbors into account in the Far East, unlike in Iraq.   There is no silver bullet for the U.S. in resolving the North Korean issue.  Given the hot Korean border and Seoul's proximity, a military escalation would be too dangerous, and also overstretch U.S. forces at the moment.  President Bush was dealt the result for his shortsighted North Korean policy.  Foreign policy must not just be morally but also strategically clear."


ITALY:  "The Atomic Bomb To Defend Ourselves From The U.S."


Anna Guaita wrote in Rome-based centrist Il Messaggero (2/11):  “North Korea’s announcement caused anxiety in international diplomatic circles, but also evoked astonishment and doubt. At first, the White House was seriously embarrassed, given the fact that just four hours earlier a Bush administration high official had stated that North Korea was about to return to the negotiating table. Later in the day, they tried to minimize the whole issue, and said that, after all, they knew or suspected that Pyongyang had atomic arms.”


"Korean Atomic Bomb Is Ready"


Alberto Negri asserted in leading business-oriented Il Sole 24 Ore (2/11):  “In another time, the North Korean announcement would have jolted chanceries all over the world. On the contrary, reactions were very composed. The Americans stated that it was rhetoric they have already heard many times in the past....  What good does the bomb do North Korea? To maintain an atomic stockpile without commiting not to use it, is a above all a political weapon? The bomb is a psychological device to exert pressure, as demonstrated by decades of the balance of terror....  In the same way, Iran is raising its voice....  Khatami, the moderate leader at the end of his mandate flexed his muscles and promised a flaming hell if the U.S. attacks the Ayatollah’s republic....  Indeed, the atomic weapon has also become a ‘bomb of the poor,’ that is of those countries that do not have much option for maneuver, those countries that feel besieged by a world that threatens to overwhelm them if they open to economic and political reforms…For some states, showing or signaling a bomb is a way to try to be treated by the superpowers as nations of equal status, without having the size for it. We should not underestimate nuclear dangers, but we should not magnify them either.”


RUSSIA:  "The U.S. Thinks Up Ways To Rid North Korea Of Nukes"


Artur Blinov wrote in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (2/15):  "Pyongyang's acknowledgement of its nuclear status has prodded Washington to step up work on a plan to rid North Korea of its WMD and possibly its current regime. Washington's actions are at variance with those of its ally, South Korea, which has chosen not to dramatize the situation.  International experts say that Seoul has motives for skepticism.  South Koreans are very careful not to provoke their northern brethren.  Indeed, whether or not the DPRK has gone nuclear, it has a formidable military arsenal as is.   It includes up to 10,000 artillery pieces in the demilitarized zone, within 40 miles of Seoul."


"The U.S. Wants No Talks With North Korea"


Yevgeniy Bay filed for reformist Izvestiya (2/14):  "North Korea's statement regarding its nuclear weapons was no bombshell, much less a nuclear bombshell, to Washington.   The White House seems to take it as a bid for economic handouts....  The Americans are skeptical about separate talks with Pyongyang, confident that North Korea will cheat anyway.  This happened in 1994, when the Clinton Administration had the North Koreans promise to phase out their nuclear program in exchange for economic assistance and security guarantees.   But North Korea did not even think of honoring the agreement and kept working on a nuclear bomb, instead....  As for North Korea, the most warlike of the 'axis-of-evil' countries, the Americans have washed their hands of it. Their plans to spread freedom and democracy don't go that far.   America's priorities lie elsewhere."


"Kim Jong Il's Nuclear Reaction"


Andrey Zlobin said in reformist Vremya Novostey (2/11):  "Pyongyang's statement is a daring challenge to Washington.  The U.S. cannot leave it at that.  Inaction on the part of the world's only superpower might encourage other bad regimes to quicken their pace on the way to nuclear weapons.   Nobody knows for sure if the North Koreans really have the bomb.   But if Kim Jong Il is not bluffing, an attack by the United States would cause enormous casualties, Americans included....  Bush has not been known for particularly subtle policies toward dictatorial regimes, which makes many experts suggest that he should tone down a bit when dealing with the DPRK."


"Marshland And Outposts"


Business-oriented Vedomosti maintained (2/11):  "If the North Koreans aren't bluffing and if they really have nuclear weapons for self-defense, the many years of international efforts to bar new members from the 'nuclear club' have gone down the drain.   Also, as they make up their minds to join the club, antagonists prefer not do so singly--India and Pakistan declared their nuclear status within a short space of time.   The DPRK may bring in tow South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.   Paradoxically, the United States' policy, as declared by the Bush Administration, has been to enhance international security, as well as national security.    But its methods--destroying the 'axis of evil,' draining the marshland of terrorism, and fighting outposts of tyranny--have been counterproductive, giving rise to more global threats, including threats to the United States.    Seeing

what happened to Iraq, its comrades-in-the-axis-of-evil, Iran and North Korea, thought it best to prepare for an attack.   The bitter irony is that

whatever progress has been made to date has been undone, while risks have multiplied....   North Korea and the United States will have to talk to each other anyway, no matter the name or format of their meeting.   Pyongyang badly needs massive economic assistance, while the Americans simply cannot afford an economic collapse of a nuclear state on their allies' borders.  Having nuclear weapons in the DPRK is fraught with either an armed conflict, the temptation to solve the problem quickly being so great, or an arms race in the region.   Japan and/or Taiwan stepping up their nuclear efforts would kill the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, particularly if Tehran should follow suit.   Being a neighbor, Russia, more than others, is interested in settling the North Korea crisis.   Its influence with the DPRK can be of great help.   But if things are to start moving at all, the United States needs to be prodded, too.   To make that happen Russia should join hands with other interested countries, acting as a kind of the 'coalition of the willing.'   It did not work with Iraq, but then, of course, Iraq had no WMD."


"There's Certain Logic To What They Do"


Sergey Strokan commented in business-oriented Kommersant (2/11):  "There is a certain logic to what problem regimes do.  By ending confrontation with Washington, they risk loosing what helps them hold their nations under a tight rein and makes their existence meaningful.   As well as keeping their 'empires' impregnable, they want to look strong and unyielding in the eyes of their peoples.  Backing down would ruin their grand image and eventually their lives.  Looking at the axis of evil that way makes it clear why North Korea and Iran, their actions uncoordinated, put on nuclear disobedience shows from time to time.   It is not that they are too obstinate or won't learn the Iraq lesson.   It is that, unlike the Iraqi dictator, they have effective military means with which to counter an invasion."


AUSTRIA:  "Alarm In East Asia"


Jutta Lietsch commented in independent Salzburger Nachrichten (2/14):  “Since the reelection of US President Bush, it has become clear that Washington will continue to pursue a hard line towards Pyongyang in the next few years. North Korea’s refusal to participate in the Six-Party-Talks could intensify the conflict in East Asia. China has tried to mediate between the two sides, being likewise not at all enthusiastic about a nuclear power North Korea. China needs stability in the region in order to promote its economic reforms. To exert pressure on Pyongyang, however--for instance by stopping the oil supplies--is a difficult undertaking even for the Chinese since they themselves have no clue as to how Kim and his military forces will react. Without economic aid on the part of its neighbor, the North Korean regime could collapse--with all the terrible consequences such as a civil war and masses of refugees that will flee across the borders to China. One consequence of the insecurity in the region is the fact that Japan is increasing its military prowess and will possibly develop nuclear ambitions of its own--much to the dismay of the Chinese, who have already reproached Japan for pursuing a nationalistic course. The prospects for East Asia are not good.”


"How Kim Learned To Love The Bomb"


Wieland Schneider observed in centrist Die Presse (2/11):  "One thing is clear:  The current policy toward North Korea has failed. True, the US time and again branded the country for being an outpost of tyranny and part of the axis of evil; however, this was merely a publicity act. Otherwise, the US focused on the Middle East and did not bother much about the threat from the Far East. Attempts on the part of South Korea, Japan and China to talk their sinister neighbor out of the bomb at the negotiation table were in vain. In view of this situation, the question must even be asked whether the IAEA and their instruments for intervention are still adequate, if they allow dubious regimes to get away with disregarding their international obligations. A military strike is always the worst option--and in the case of North Korea, it is not an option at all. Too great is the risk of provoking a nuclear war in Asia. The only option that is left is to step up the efforts to achieve a downfall of the totalitarian regime. One lesson can be drawn already, though: Appeasement policy does not work with dictators like Kim Jong-Il."


"The Korean Deadlock"


Markus Bernath wrote in independent Der Standard (2/11):  "The problem with the Korean crisis is the deadlock Pyongyang and Washington have maneuvered themselves into during the past three years. The solution to the crisis is 'realpolitik'--a return to the cynicism of the Cold War years, when Washington coolly calculated the odds and opted for business with Beijing to the disadvantage of the Soviet Union. Now, too, the US ought to put aside its contempt for a state that lets its citizen starve and puts them into work camps, and give to the North Korean regime the security guarantee bolstered with generous financial aid that Kim is hoping for. North Korea's realistic option would be nuclear disarmament and an economic policy after the Chinese model."


"A Nightmare"


Foreign editor Kurt Seinitz held in mass-circulation tabloid Neue Kronenzeitung (2/11):  "If it is correct that North Korea has developed the nuclear bomb the world is headed for a virtual nightmare:  WMD in the hands of crazies of a psychopathic regime. If it is equally right that the US government has known about this for two years, the question must be raised why it has restricted itself to the role of onlooker while at the same time aggressively bashing Iran which vehemently denies nuclear ambitions. This selective silence would only be further proof of the selective interest policy pursued by the US. For the world, there is no more dangerous scenario than a starving North Korea with nuclear weapons. It would resort to every desperate action to ensure its survival, and if there were to be a twilight of the gods, the regime would not hesitate to destroy half the world in a suicidal nuclear fire."


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Kim's Bomb And America"


Frantisek Janouch commented in leading, centrist MF Dnes (2/11):  "Several years ago, the U.S. and some other countries managed to force North Korea to engage in negotiations to halt North Korea's nuclear weapons program.  The tiny dictatorship has been playing cat and mouse with negotiators since then....  The problem is that North Korea is such an isolated and closed country...that one cannot rule out that the West is not once again a victim of North Korea's bluff.  North Korea has neither oil nor oil pipelines running through its territory.  Therefore the main actor establishing a new international order is not able to decide on taking decisive action.  And the international public is at its wit's end whether it should welcome this American hesitation or not."


"Nuclear Hypochondriac"


Adam Cerny opined in business-oriented Hospodarske Noviny (2/11):  "Although China for example (among the countries involved in the Six-Party-Talks) also has problems with North Korea, it is now the U.S.' turn in the nuclear poker game.  They must weigh in Washington how much carrot and how much stick are needed for their unpredictable opponent to return to the negotiating table."


DENMARK:  "U.S. Should Practice What It Preaches"


Center-left Politiken argued (2/14):  "The non-proliferation of nuclear weapons is a good idea.  But the U.S. does not seem to include itself when it talks about stopping the spread and development of nuclear arms.  At the present time, the U.S. is in the process of developing a new generation of nuclear weapons.   These weapons have never been more meaningless than they are now as they are not needed to maintain the balance of power.  The U.S. policy is therefore neither aimed at stabilizing the world or does it have any constructive rationale.  Clearly, it is untenable to tolerate the provocations of North Korea.  But it is also untenable to address the North Korean issue militarily.  We will regret both courses of action.  It is high time that we rethink our approach to North Korea."


HUNGARY:  "Who Is Next?"


Business-oriented Vilaggazdasag editorialized (2/14):  “It is feasible that the Bush administration will use a somewhat stronger rhetoric against North Korea, but at the moment, it is unlikely that a military intervention would occur on the Korean Peninsula. Although Bush ranked Pyongyang among the “axis of evil”, in the past 15 years, [North Korea] has never supported terrorism, does not have links to al-Qaida not to mention the fact that it does not have oil, either. It seems likely that Iran still heads the hawks’ list.”


"Standing Domino"


Gyula Krajczar stated in top-circulation, center-left Nepszabadsag (2/11):  “Qadhafi seems to have been forgiven for his amateurish nuclear program because no other powers hurried either to his aid or to attack him. But because so many are involved in the Korea business, an incredible amount of problems appear within the system....  This is not an accident however, nor is it an issue of free choice. It only means that the U.S. will never be able to solve the Korea problem in itself. Washington is clearly aware of that--what remains to be done now is to form an appropriate policy. It is not an easy situation. For decades, the U.S. has been following a policy of status quo in the Far East, which is becoming more and more impossible to follow. But even if only one domino falls, unpredictable processes will start. Consequently, the Bush perspective today is only that we should keep the domino standing.”


"Blackmailer To Increase Stake"


Ferenc Kepecs asserted in left-of-center Nepszava (2/11):  “For decades, Washington has done its best to isolate North Korea, but--being aware of the nature of the regime there--nobody blamed them for that. Instead, they are often asked why, if they intervened in Kosovo and Iraq, they fail to do so in North Korea where the tyrant Kim Jong-il is torturing his people even more cruelly than Milosevic or Saddam Hussein did. Those who ask that are wrong of course. An intervention of this kind in the given region would have had fatal effects even before after the Pyongyang announcement, and even more so now....  The entire region has practically become a hostage to Kim Jong-il. A clever blackmailer could benefit a lot from a situation like that. The question is whether the world is going to let itself be blackmailed.”


"New Axis Being Formed?"


Gabor Laszlo Zord asked in right-of-center Magyar Nemzet (2/11):  “But why is Washington’s reaction so weak? We have every reason to ask, since it is the U.S. whose uncontainable diplomatic, economic and military press forward could only be stopped by the threat represented by nuclear weapons. It is as if [the U.S.] were certain that the development would not improve North Korea’s situation or significantly influence its geopolitical situation. However, the efforts of the communist regime deserve more attention than that, especially in view of the 'minor' detail that its most recent announcement was made in the very days when America, with unprecedented vehemence, has been attacking Iran for its nuclear program. Is it possible that Pyongyang and Tehran will now benefit from the cooperation that has already been tested in military technology issues on the diplomatic level as well?”


IRELAND:  "Korea's Nuclear Threat"


The center-left Irish Times declared (2/11):  "This frank statement...poses a dilemma for the Bush administration on whether to crank up further pressure on the regime or try to revive the talks by offering economic concessions in return for a readiness to abandon such weapons. The fact that this escalation coincides with renewed determination by Iran to maintain its nuclear program stokes up further tension on the issue. It has always been difficult to interpret the real intentions of the secretive and paranoid North Korean regime. But there have been two basic schools of thought on how best to understand its motives and politics. The first assumes that it is driven by a fundamental need to survive following a disastrous famine in the 1990s, representing a comprehensive failure of Stalinist centralized planning. Reforms introduced in 2002 monetarised and decentralized the economy, introduced new profit and productivity incentives and opened up more trade across its borders with South Korea, China and Russia. In return for help with the reforms from these countries, along with Japan and the U.S., it has been assumed that North Korea is willing to be a rational partner on regional stability and nuclear weapons control. In this perspective, North Korea's regular outbreaks of brinkmanship are seen as perverse appeals for more aid and positional advantage disguised as threats. This latest outbreak will be seen by seasoned observers as a more vigorous expression of such behavior. An alternative view is not convinced that North Korea's tactics are so closely related to its economic and political needs to survive. It is a highly repressive and dangerous totalitarian regime, with a record of selling nuclear technology. It has an irrational streak which is best contained by explicit threats of military retaliation. The Bush administration has oscillated between these two views without consistency....  The US has neither the resources nor the political will to enforce a containment policy on the other five states which want to engage North Korea."


NORWAY:  "'The Axis Of Evil’ And Nuclear Weapons”


Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten said (2/12):  "North Korea’s dramatic announcement on Thursday that ‘we have produced nuclear weapons in self-defense to come to grips with the Bush Administration’s increasingly evident political intent to isolate and pressure’ the country, comes as an unmistakable confirmation of the U.S. thesis that the fight against the spread of nuclear weapons now requires top priority internationally. This has always been an important question, but now it has received a new and scary realism, after 9-11 showed us how far fanatics are willing to go in their political fight. If Usama bin Laden had had nuclear weapons, few doubt that he would have used them....  If the world is to avoid a dangerous nuclear race, the Americans must get clear support in their work on limiting these weapons--in exchange for the U.S. entering into a real cooperation with other countries on policies that make nuclear weapons less attractive for new countries.”


POLAND:  "Good News For Terrorists"


Editor-in-chief Grzegorz Jankowski wrote in tabloid Fakt (2/11):  “Paradoxically, the mere fact that North Korea possesses nuclear weapons is not the biggest threat. Even though that country’s regime is unpredictable, it is not stripped of the instinct for self-preservation. It is very unlikely it will decide to launch a nuclear attack on Japan or the southern part of the peninsula, because that would mean an inevitable retaliation, and the regime’s end. A bigger danger is that the North Korean regime may pass its nuclear weapons to terrorist organizations it sponsors, and with which it is bound by many ties....  The key to resolve the issue of North Korea is in Beijing, not in Europe or America. Unless China really feels jeopardized by Pyongyang’s excesses, the chance to topple North Korea’s regime will be very slim.”


SPAIN:  "Pyongyang, A Threat Or A Boast?"


Independent El Mundo asked (2/13):  "It is possible that Pyongyang is using its most recent announcement to try and restart negotiations in a better light. It would be a dangerous method of bargaining, but this credible explanation is preferable to the one that simply says that Kim Jong II's regime has fallen in a definitive isolationist paranoia....  A threat or a boast, negotiations must be strengthened to bring North Korea to disarm, and to avoid any other country from seeing the obtaining of a bomb as a guarantee of an apparent independence in front of foreign interferences."


"Pyongyang And The Bomb"


Left-of-center El País editorialized (2/11):  "The North Korean statement, invoking pressure by the U.S. as the supreme argument for acquiring a nuclear weapon, does not necessarily mean that the country is in a position to deploy a system of nuclear attack....  The new situation leaves Washington with fewer options and adds urgency to the renewal of the dialogue.  Nobody in the international scenario supports a military solution, and if Bush, as has declared, is willing to politically deal with North Korea's conversion to nuclear energy, it seems that the moment to stress diplomacy has come....  The problem for the U.S. is, however, its weakened credibility.  The Pentagon has recently given instructions to its laboratories for the development of a new generation of atomic warheads to replace the thousands stored since the Cold War.  The fact that, even though its planetary enemy, the USSR, has disappeared, Washington is now going to develop a new and more powerful nuclear arsenal to eventually be used against smaller countries, doesn't help  dissaude from their ambitions those countries that feel themselves threatened."


SWEDEN:  "An Irrational Dictator Challenges The World"


Foreign Editor Per Ahlin remarked in independent, liberal Stockholm-based Dagens Nyheter (2/10):  "Every acknowledgement or denial from this closed and brutal dictatorship (North Korea) should be taken with a grain of salt. True and false statements have been disseminated from North Korean ministries over the years. Thursday’s statement may be a politically motivated lie. But the problem is there. Sooner or later the country may become nuclear, and this is a nightmare no one wants to experience....  North Korea is a threat to peace and security in an already unstable region. The question is how the issue should be handled. The problem is that the international community’s alternatives are few. Boycotts are of limited use against a country that is already isolated and destitute....  One has talked about linking tough disarmament demands with promises of assistance and normalized relations....  There must be political incentives to make the singled out country cooperate. A comprehensive solution is needed. But this takes time and requires--here is the stumbling-block--a rational opposite party.”




UAE:  "China's Headache"


The expatriate-oriented English-language Gulf Today declared (2/15):  "North Korea's latest nuclear brinkmanship has provided China its biggest diplomatic challenge since Beijing was chosen to lead the six-nation talks....  Pyongyang's revelation that it owns nuclear weapons and its withdrawal from the talks have made it all the more difficult for China to break the knot....  China has the leading role to persuade North Korea to step down from the brink and agree to join talks....  North Korea's revelation...has not changed the US policy of not contacting with that country directly. Washington has asked Beijing to tackle the crisis....  Russia and China are the best bet for taming North Korea. But the latest move from Pyongyang has even made these traditional allies weary....  The six-party talks were aimed at pursuing a three-phased plan based on Pyongyang's proposal to freeze its nuclear programmes....  However, the talks have been stalled since June last year when North Korea insisted on direct contact with the U.S.. It is not happy with the US proposal of major economic and diplomatic rewards in return for closing down and sealing of its nuclear facilities....  Pyongyang is demanding rewards for the freeze.  The deep-rooted distrust between the US and North Korea prevented the progress of the plan. In the wake of the controversy regarding a nuclear blackmarket where secrets and equipment are being sold clandestinely, Pyongyang will face more pressure. The US would continue pushing for a result from its Asian allies. Brinkmanship will not help resolve the crisis. The success of the American policy depends on what China and Russia can do to prevent their ally from crossing the redline."




AUSTRALIA:  "North Korea And The Nuclear Threat"


The liberal Melbourne-based Age held (2/14):  "Threat and counter-threat is hardly a solution to the spread of nuclear weapons to the Korean peninsula. In a curious twist, the United States has shrugged off the first outright declaration by North Korea that it has nuclear weapons. Here is a nation with one of the most erratic leaderships in the world declaring that it has weapons of mass destruction and the US response--at least that of new Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice--is glib dismissal. Saddam Hussein must be wondering where he went wrong....  China has already impressed upon Kim Jong-il the need for economic and political reforms. It has also said the six-nation talks, which it hosts, should continue. North Korea should heed that counsel, while the US might learn a little from the quieter diplomacy of the Chinese.”


"Confronting North Korea’s Nuclear Threat"


The national conservative Australian observed (2/13):  "North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il obviously listened closely to President George W. Bush's State of the Union address earlier this month and did not like the presidential promise to encourage democracy around the world.  Freedom is the last thing Mr Kim's decaying dictatorship can afford. And so the tyrant did what he always does when he feels especially threatened--he bullied and blustered about his military might....  For all the tough talk, the regime could collapse without foreign food and fuel. Even after the long years of lying by Pyongyang, there is still room to negotiate on Mr Kim's arms program. For all the eccentricity of the regime's rhetoric, Mr Kim and his cronies are adept diplomatic poker players. The latest warning may yet turn out to be a bluff, a means of extracting concessions from the US and its friends and allies in the region for returning to the table and talking. We must hope so.”


"Don’t Bet On North Korea Bluffing"


Foreign editor Greg Sheridan argued in the national conservative Australian (2/11):  "It would be grotesque indeed if Kim Jong-Il, the weird ruler of North Korea, became the second dictator to bluff his way into catastrophic war with the US on the basis of nuclear weapons that do not exist. North Korea's bizarre statement that it already has nuclear weapons and will now develop more is impossible to interpret confidently....  It is difficult to imagine Washington would do nothing if, as the North Korean official statement claims, the rogue Communist state now embarks on producing new nuclear weapons. North Korea has a history of crazy statements, which often turn out to be false. But you wouldn't bet your life on this statement being untrue. This is a crisis from hell.”


CHINA:  "U.S. Plans To Snuff Out North Korea’s Economy"


Ma Jing commented in offiicial Beijing-based Beijing News (Xin Jing Bao) (2/15):  "Now that North Korea has announced that it possesses nuclear weapons, the U.S. wants to employ more stringent economic sanctions against North Korea to force it to make a choice--give up its nuclear program or move into even deeper economic isolation....  The U.S.’ plan to snuff-out North Korea’s economy was fashioned one month prior to North Korea’s nuclear weapons proclamation....  A U.S. official stated that if South Korea and China could be persuaded to participate in the plan, it would be possible to take even broader sanctions against North Korea.  It appears that the U.S. and South Korea have moved even farther apart on how to deal with North Korea.  Unlike the U.S.’s tough stand against North Korea, South Korea has been content to take a softer position....  This is because South Korea thinks North Korea is making a false show of strength.”


CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS):  "The Nuclear Challenge Posed By North Korea"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post said (2/12):  "The coming weeks were expected to be a time for steady progress on talks to end North Korea's nuclear weapons program.  A Chinese envoy was expected in North Korea over the Lunar New Year, presumably to encourage the isolated Stalinist country to return to six-way talks that have stalled since June.  The optimism and expectation was underscored by a flurry of consultations between North Korea's five negotiating partners and, importantly, by a softening of rhetoric from the U.S....  The North has withdrawn from negotiations indefinitely.  The sudden revelation has left Beijing, host of the talks, with a diplomatic black eye.  It has also left the U.S., Russia, Japan and South Korea expressing various degrees of regret over the comments but clearly unwilling to say anything more until they can regroup and formulate a unified response....  Such an outright admission is the kind that could spark a North Asian nuclear weapons race.  South Korea and Japan's governments, backed by public opinion, may feel the need to seek their own deterrent against attack from Pyongyang....  Preventing a destabilizing military escalation and solving the North Korean problem are increasingly likely to be two sides of the same coin....  Successfully ending North Korea's nuclear ambitions will require a well-crafted, enforceable disarmament program.  Flaws in the previous agreement allowed it to keep fuel enrichment projects which were adaptable for making warheads.  Such loopholes must be closed this time around.  As for North Korea's weapons admission, it should add to the urgency for getting the talks back on track."


"All Sides Should Take The DPRK's Statement Calmly"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (2/12):  "The statement by the DPRK has poured cold water on the heads of those people who hoped that the six-party talks could resume after U.S. President Bush began his send term.  Why did Pyongyang make such a tough decision?  People will think that Pyongyang wants to strengthen its bargaining power with the U.S. by announcing the possession of nuclear power.  Some experts also believe that the DPRK did issue a similar statement before.  Thus, the statement is not so strange.  But people have overlooked an important detail: the U.S. still attacked Iraq even though a majority of people objected.  And now, it is keeping an eye on Iran.  Pyongyang believes that it is the next target of the U.S. after Iraq and Iran....  Now, the most important thing is the attitude of the U.S.  The U.S. should not be too tough towards the DPRK.  It should not irritate the DPRK and increase contradictions.  The U.S. should determine why it could not convince the DPRK to continue with the six-party talks....  The U.S. should examine the impact of the Iraqi war on U.S. image.  And it should look at the damage done by unilateralism.  It should not so easily list other countries as 'axes of evils.'  What it did will only increase the danger of terrorist attacks and will garner many enemies.  It will be bad for maintaining world peace and stability."


TAIWAN:  "'Axis of Evil' Defying U.S. On Nuclear Proliferation"


The conservative, pro-unification, English-language China Post asserted (2/15):  "North Korea is now the world’s No. 8 nuclear power, if its claim is true.  This poses a direct challenge to U.S. President W. Bush, who has pledged to confront tyrannical regimes that promoted terror and pursued the development of WMD....  By heightening the stakes, Pyongyang appears to be gambling that Washington and its allies will ultimately accept the idea of a nuclear North Korea.  So far, brinkmanship has worked well for the North Koreas.  Since the crisis erupted in 2002, Pyongyang has carefully crossed U.S. red lines, with little apparent consequence....  Regional resistance to a military strike against the North has mounted in the past year--and to many in the region, the idea of a nuclear North Korea is simply not as shocking as it once was....  America has little appetite for making concessions to North Korea.  If the talks do not resume, the Bush administration could face a tough struggle to get the issue before the UNSC, where China holds a veto.”


"Do Not Overlook the Impact Created By Pyongyang Declaring That It Has Nuclear Weapons"


Centrist, pro-status quo China Times commented (2/14):  "Pyongyang’s declaration, without doubt, indicates that the focus of the ‘nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula’ has pushed the previous argument over Pyongyang’s ability to ‘manufacture’ nuclear weapons to [a new stage where the focus is] ‘possession’ of nuclear weapons.  In other words, the message that Pyongyang sent to the world was that people no longer need to discuss whether North Korea needs to freeze its facilities that manufacture nuclear weapons.  North Korea has, no matter how, succeeded in producing nuclear weapons and is thus basically a country in possession of nuclear weapons.  The whole agenda for a meeting will be totally different even if the Six-Party talks resume in the future....  Even though it remains to be seen how the situation will further develop, one thing can be sure: the move by Pyongyang has forced the other five countries involving in the Six-Party talks to adopt a unified position for the time being because the hawks in other countries have all started to criticize Pyongyang.  It will not be too difficult for the U.S. to resolve the North Korean issue first before handling the Iran issue as long as it can get rid of the mud and dirt of Iraq.  China, of course, will not be happy to have another bad neighbor that owns nuclear weapons and will thus increase its pressure on Pyongyang.  Taiwan, on the other hand, should watch closely whether the whole new chess game will again lead to a re-organization of power in East Asia.”


JAPAN:  "International Encirclement With Economic Sanctions Needed; Do Not Yield To Threat"


Conservative Sankei maintained (2/12):  "North Korea has officially announced the possession of nuclear weapons and said it will suspend its participation in the six-party talks for an indefinite period.  This is an unforgivable challenge to the peace and security of neighboring nations, including Japan.  Japan, after having full consultations with the United States and other countries, should embark on economic sanctions....  Although it labels North Korea as 'an outpost of tyranny,' the second Bush administration has made a point of controlling itself....  Taking advantage of the U.S.' restrained stance, North Korea must be aiming at making the United States accept bilateral talks....  Judging from the fact that the statement does not touch on China, South Korea and Russia, we can feel North Korea's intention to divide Japan and the United States on the one hand, and the other three countries on the other....  Families of abductees, too, have expressed their strong anger....  Nevertheless, the government is still cautious about imposing sanctions....  There is a possibility that North Korea will boost trade with China and South to make up for a decline in trade with Japan because Japan is the third largest trade partner following China and South Korea.   That said, what Japan has to do more than anything else is to display its stance in the form of imposing sanctions....  For China and South Korea, North Korea's nuclear weapons development is certainly intolerable.   Because of North Korea's announcement of its possession of nuclear weapons, China, in particular, lost its face as the chair of the six-party talks.  To press North Korea to abolish its nuclear weapons development programs in a verifiable and irreversible way, in addition to the settlement of the abduction issue, Japan, with referring the issues to the UNSC in mind, needs to harden its ties with the United States and make persistent diplomatic efforts to seek cooperation from China, South Korea, and Russia."   


"Six-Party Talks; Do Not Be Taken In By North Korea's Alienating Measure"


Top-circulation moderate Yomiuri maintained (2/11):  "North Korea's latest statement came as speculation was increasing that the six-way talks could restart since US President George W. Bush had launched his second-term administration.   The communist state also cited Japan's attitude on the abduction issue as another reason for its decision to suspend participation in the talks.   We find Pyongyang's statement extremely regrettable....  If North Korea categorically refuses to rejoin the six-nation talks, the issue will be brought before the UNSC, setting the stage for discussions on possible international sanctions on the nation.   The crisis, however, has not yet escalated that far....  Its threat to suspend participation in the talks for an indefinite period should be seen as designed to accomplish that goal....  Progress in the six-party talks hinges on whether North Korea will decide on the abolition of all nuclear weapons development programs, including an enriched uranium program....  North Korea should know better than to play for time.   It should dismantle its nuclear program immediately....  North Korea probably wants to get more carrots by showing its nuclear trump cards, but its attitude is extremely dangerous....  The five countries should strongly urge North Korea to rejoin the six-way talks as soon as possible, while maintaining a united front and not reacting too strongly to Pyongyang's threat."  


"North Korea's Announcement; Threat, Extortion Never Work"


Liberal Mainichi editorialized (2/11):  "The aim of North Korea's statement probably has something to do with the fact that the US Government's main concern is the reconstruction of Iraq and other issues in the Middle East and that a Chinese delegation is scheduled to visit North Korea to encourage North Korea to resume the talks....  Perhaps, to take the lead in resumed talks, North Korea has an intention of drawing further concessions from the U.S. and seeking to get something from China in return for its participation in the six-party talks....  Whatever the reasons, no one can tolerate the attitude of threatening the international community by showing off its production of nuclear weapons and saying it will produce more....  North Korea often shows a hardline attitude before reaching an important is apparent that such a manner runs counter to the principles of the six-party framework....  It is important that to resume the six-party talks, Japan, the United States and South Korea analyze in a calm manner North Korea's aim and have a unified stance."


"North Korea's Statement; Too Much Brinkmanship"


Liberal Tokyo Shimbun asserted (2/11):  "The statement is too outrageous...cooperation among and pressure by neighboring countries are indispensable....  The statement will make North Korea further isolated from the international community, but it is necessary to ascertain the true intention....  What can be read from the statement is North Korea's anxiety about the Bush administration's policy to isolate and suppress North Korea, saying the statement reflects North Korea's intention to get security guarantees from the U.S. by showing a hardline attitude and take the lead in the six-party talks....  It will be inevitable for the UNSC to discuss economic sanctions if North Korea says it is not obliged to observe the NPT rules....  Japan, the U.S., and South Korea, in cooperation with China, which is acting as a coordinator, must make efforts toward resuming the six-party talks, which are an opportunity to get rid of unstable factors in East Asia."


"North Korea's Statement; Stop Threatening And Go Back To Negotiating Table"


Liberal Asahi stated (2/11):  "There is no doubt that North Korea is using brinkmanship diplomacy aimed at altering the situation to its advantage by heightening the level of its threat....  We would like to harshly criticize North Korea for selfishly attaching the reasons to its refusal to take part in the six-part talks....  At the first glance, it is strange for North Korea to raise its eyebrows at the US policy, which is much softer than before....  Perhaps North Korea, being aware that it is not so easy for the U.S. to take military action against North Korea because of Iraq, issued the statement to make the U.S. hold direct negotiations with North Korea.  What we can hear from the statement is North Korea's true intention to get 'security guarantees from the United States....  It is now difficult to resume the six-party talks and the five nations should not leave the issue as it is....  The more it takes time, the further North Korea's nuclear development programs progresses....  It is important to beef up diplomatic efforts to get North Korea back to the negotiating table....  Sending a much clearer message that if it gives up nuclear weapons development programs, the security of the Establishment will be guaranteed could be one means.  North Korea's threat is nonsense, and Japan should stay cool and deal with the issues of abduction, nuclear weapons development, and missiles based on the dialogue and pressure policy."


"North Korea's Possession Of Nuclear Weapons Cannot Be Forgivable"


Business-oriented Nihon Keizai said (2/11):  "The true motive of North Korea's unexpected move is is an outrage that the International Community can never accept....  The statement poured cold water on expectations for the resumption of the six-party talks....  North Korea probably wants to get an advantageous position in preparation for the resumption of the six-party talks by using the same old threatening strategy....  The statement also gives the impression that North Korea is trying to have the U.S. and Japan change their policies toward North Korea in return for the abolition of its nuclear ambitions....  The statement could be seen as a move reflecting predicaments and impatience of the Kim Jong Il regime, which is facing a dead end....  North Korean people's criticism of the regime has been reported....  China must play a role in figuring out what lies behind the statement....  If North Korea continues to develop nuclear weapons as announced and refuses to take part in the six-party talks, the UNSC should be summoned and discussions to impose sanctions should be launched....  The international community will never allow North Korea to have nuclear weapons, but the international community needs to ascertain in a calm manner what the Kim Jong Il regime is trying to get."


MALAYSIA:  "North Korean Nuclear Arms--A Challenge To Bush"


Government-influenced, Malay-language Berita Harian declared (2/12):  "The declaration by North Korea on its nuclear arms arsenal is a challenge to U.S. President George W. Bush who has said he would block Pyongyang from developing its nuclear arms program. North Korea’s actions have definitely shaken the strategic balance and will have Japan worrying about just how nuclear-capable Pyongyang is. Pyongyang is accusing Bush of trying to fool the world about the threat from the Korean Peninsula, while trying to topple the North Korean government. Bush has lied about WMDs in his attempt to topple Baghdad...will he be just as brave with a nuclear-ready North Korea?"


NEW ZEALAND:  "Nuclear Risk Must Not Be Ignored"


The center-left Auckland-based New Zealand Herald opined (2/14):  "As for North Korea's admission that it has nuclear weapons...those in the know were not surprised by the disclosure. US policy towards the communist state has for some time assumed nuclear arms--and the likelihood that a million or more may die if an all-out war were to break out on the Korean peninsula. But Pyongyang's admission provides a timely warning that proliferation is no longer an issue that can remain on the international backburner....  North Korea...has made little secret of its nuclear designs....  Efforts to disarm North Korea have involved three rounds of six-nation talks....  Disappointingly, they have been characterised by the same sort of inertia as that pervading negotiations with Iran. There has been much rhetoric and searching for concessions by the North Koreans, and no substantive progress. Now, Pyongyang says it is suspending its participation in the talks....  This amounts to brinkmanship by the North Koreans. The impoverished country brings few chips to the negotiating table....  Equally, however, the Korean admission represents the first time a rogue state has possessed nuclear weapons--and threatened global nuclear stability. The international community must react effectively. President George W. Bush has placed his faith in the six-nation talks, rather than embarking on bilateral negotiations or calling on the UN....  North Korea's announcement should, in fact, be the trigger for an international initiative to deal with nuclear proliferation....  Inspections under the treaty have been made stricter, while an increased US focus on counter-proliferation strategies sponsored the Proliferation Security Initiative for intercepting nuclear cargoes at sea. Now, however, there is every reason for a concerted international effort to halt proliferation. The stakes have been raised, and the danger cannot be ignored." 


SOUTH KOREA:  "A Fair And Square Response to North Korea’s Nuclear Brinkmanship"


Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (2/14):  “While North Korea takes stronger measures step-by-step, our government continues to talk about reconciliation.  Up to now, we have managed to promote economic cooperation with the North continuously, even under difficult circumstances, but the North has been pursuing its own interests.  It should be noted that the North declared its possession of nuclear weapons at a time when the Bush administration had made conciliatory gestures toward it.  This shows that the North interprets national security and denuclearization of the Peninsula only in its own way, according to its own needs.  Seoul’s conciliatory response could be a tactic to induce the North back to the Six-Party Talks.  Even in that case, however, the ROKG must criticize the North’s declaration and take the measures against it that should be taken.  Such low-profile comments as ‘inter-Korean economic cooperation will continue’ should not be made at least.  Words of appeasement like this can be made after we learn of North Korea’s real intentions.  It is more likely that remarks like that will only create misunderstandings among our neighboring countries.  The ROKG must refrain from making hasty comments until matters are cleared up.  It must ease people’s anxieties by demonstrating a firm ROK-U.S. Alliance and issue strong warnings to the North so that it would not misjudge the situation.”


"It Is Not Time To Reconsider Aid To North Korea"


Moderate Hankook Ilbo stated (2/14):  “We find it undesirable to discuss reconsidering aid to North Korea at this point.  Even though there has been controversy over inter-Korean economic cooperation and aid to the North, which have been ongoing since the days of the Kim Dae-jung administration, we cannot ignore the fact that such inter-Korean projects and aid to North Korea are significant negotiating assets in terms of building trust between the two Koreas and increasing the North’s reliance on the ROK.  We must use these assets to prevent North Korea’s nuclear adventurism from escalating into an uncontrollable crisis and to turn the situation around.  In this regard, it was appropriate for Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon to tell Vice President Cheney that the ROK will utilize its experience accumulated in the course of inter-Korean exchanges to persuade the North and will consult closely with Washington in that process....  Now is the time for the ROKG to seek close cooperation from China, which has a similar position to ours, in order to persuade North Korea as much as possible, and to make clear to Pyongyang our intolerance of a nuclear-armed North Korea and that it will be inevitable at some point to suspend aid to the North.”


"Guarding Against Hardline Stance On North Korea"


Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun asserted (2/14):  “It is problematic that North Korea has announced it will not participate in the Six-Party Talks and that it possesses nuclear weapons, but it is shortsighted to demand a hardline response to the North just because of the announcement.  The principle of resolving the North Korean nuclear issue diplomatically and peacefully must not be shaken.  The call for a hardline approach to North Korea--advocated mostly by conservatives in the U.S., the ROK and Japan and ranging from old demands for pressuring the North through economic sanctions and the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) to moves to break up the Six-Party Talks framework to suggestions that there should be ‘Five-Party Talks’ excluding the North--is irresponsible and dangerous in that it promotes a confrontational situation without anything to buffer that confrontation.  Far from resolving the North Korean issue, it will only make the situation tenser, because it will further exacerbate the single biggest factor that has been aggravating the situation, the mutual distrust between the U.S. and North Korea.  It is regrettable for the U.S. to continue to reject direct talks with North Korea.  It is less than convincing for Washington to avoid meeting with the North directly while saying it does not seek regime change in the communist state.”


"Do Not Tolerate A Nuclear-armed North Korea"


Independent Dong-a Ilbo contended (2/12):  “The ROKG should reflect on whether its low-profile, conciliatory stance on North Korea might have delayed the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue.  The ROKG has consistently urged Pyongyang to take a forward-looking attitude, but the result turned out to be exactly the opposite.  It has now become evident that we cannot bring about changes in North Korea’s attitude without putting the principle of not tolerating a nuclear-armed North Korea into action.  The time has come for the ROKG to consider mobilizing leverage, which will serve as substantial pressure on North Korea.  For instance, Seoul can send a stern message to Pyongyang by controlling the speed of inter-Korean economic cooperation.  In addition, the ROKG needs to get it firmly into the North Koreans’ mind that their nuclear threat is very much to their disadvantage.  Furthermore, it is also important to gather the voices of the international community to pressure the North to give up its nuclear ambitions.  In particular, Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon should do his best so that ROK-U.S. cooperation remains firm.”


"North Korea’s Nuclear Brinkmanship"


Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (2/11):  “We need to watch closely whether North Korea’s declaration of the possession of nuclear weapons is a real admission or its typical brinkmanship tactic designed to ratchet up the tension with the U.S.  However, now that the North has apparently assumed an attitude of not avoiding head-on confrontation with the international community, Washington’s response is also bound to change....  During his Feb. 2 State of the Union Address, President Bush refrained from criticizing the North Korean regime as much as possible and expressed his intent to resolve the North Korean issue through diplomatic means, raising hopes for an early resumption of the Six-Party Talks.  The nations involved in the multilateral talks have accordingly engaged in a flurry of diplomatic activities to this end.  This declaration by North Korea has turned these international expectations on their head.”


"North Korea’s Declaration Of Nuclear Possession And Rejection Of Dialogue Worst Choice Ever"


Independent Dong-a Ilbo held (2/11):  “The announcement by North Korea’s Foreign Ministry that it has nuclear weapons and will suspend its participation in the Six-Party Talks is a dangerous idea that throws cold water on the possibility of resolving the North Korean nuclear issue through dialogue....  It also has enormous implications as it indicates the North’s distrust of all the participants in the multilateral talks, including the U.S. and the ROK.  If Pyongyang believes that it can lead the nuclear issue on as it desires, it will be an outrageous miscalculation.  Now that the North has officially declared itself a nuclear power, a failure to resume dialogue will only lead to sanctions, such as referring the North Korean issue to the UNSC.  Pyongyang must not forget that there is no single neighboring country, including China, which will tolerate its nuclear armament.”


"North Korea’s Dangerous Declaration Of Nuclear Possession"


Moderate Hankook Ilbo observed (2/11):  “We strongly hope that North Korea, despite its strong remarks toward the U.S., refrains from going against international efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.  The North itself is well aware of whatever international pressure and sanctions that will be brought upon it, if its declaration of the possession of nuclear weapons goes beyond the statement aimed at gaining the upper hand in negotiations....  On the other hand, we cannot help but point out that the U.S. is also responsible for taking the situation to this point.  There has been persistent talk in the U.S. that the Bush Administration is at fault for insisting only on the North’s abandonment of nuclear programs while putting the promise of security assurances, persistently demanded by the North, on the back burner.  Even entering its second term, the Bush Administration has cornered the North by advocating the end of tyranny and leaking a theory of North Korea exporting uranium, an allegation with no solid basis.  Given all this, rather than trying to play down the seriousness of this development, the ROKG should reconfirm the principle of resolving the North Korean nuclear issue through negotiations and send a clear message to the North to this effect.”


"Does North Korea Again Rely On Brinkmanship?"


Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo declared (2/11):  “Of course, chances remain that the shocking statement was a ‘brinkmanship tactic’ often used by North Korea.  It is difficult to judge whether the North declared such a strong position in an effort to maximize its compensation before heading into the talks.  However, upon reviewing the [North Korean Foreign Ministry] statement in its entirety, it reflects the North’s intention not to give in to U.S. demands....  It also gives the impression that North Korea will maintain its hard-line stance until the U.S. recognizes Kim Jong-il’s regime openly.  If the North chooses to go against the unanimous demands of the international community like this, an enormous tragedy is inevitable in the end.  It is evident that no country, including the ROK, the U.S. and Japan, will give in to such threats by North Korea because peace on the Korean Peninsula is so closely related to their national interests.  The same applies for China....  The only route for Kim Jong-il to maintain the regime and rebuild the crumbled economy is by giving up its nuclear program.  We urge North Korea to return to the Six-Party Talks at once.  The ROKG must also reconsider its approach toward the North from scratch.  Most of all, it must get rid of the belief that North Korea will act according to our will if we are considerate of its position.  There is also no room for error in cooperating with the U.S.”


"North's Surprise Declaration"


The independent English-language Korea Times maintained (2/10):  "Quite contrary to general expectations that North Korea would soon declare its willingness to return to the six-party dialogue, Pyongyang has threatened the nuclear negotiations with a surprise statement on Thursday that it would stay away from the forum for an indefinite period. The North’s sudden hard-line position is certain to escalate its confrontation with the U.S....  The North’s stance is not different from what it has kept since its boycott of the multilateral negotiations, following the third round held in Beijing last June....  The statement was the North’s first reaction to Bush’s conciliatory gesture to the communist regime in his State of the Union address....  Bush’s soft-toned speech has raised hope for an early resumption of the six-way talks....  Local watchers on North Korean affairs are racking their brain to find out what has actually made Pyongyang take on the rigid the midst of hopeful expectations. Some suggested that U.S. suspicion about North’s sales of nuclear materials around the world might have prompted Pyongyang to boycott the dialogue....  Many political analysts are regarding the North’s declaration as another blackmail effort to wrest more concessions from Washington before returning to the negotiating table. They are of the opinion that the North has no choice but to take part in the six-party talks because it badly needs aid from the participants in the talks and the rest of the international community as well."


THAILAND:  "World Peace Hit By Double Setback"


The lead editorial in the top-circulation, moderately-conservative, English-language Bangkok Post read (2/15):  "The first day of the Chinese Year of the Rooster may go down in history as the day the world began its destruction. Arguably, the two surliest and most unfriendly members of the world of nations announced that they are abandoning the last shreds of polite behavior.  Instead of talking, Iran and North Korea implied they would intimidate their neighbors, and back up their actions with terrible weapons.  From now on, it seems, the leadership in Teheran and Pyongyang will either have their way or back up demands with nuclear threats.  It is difficult to think of a worse double setback to prospects of world peace.  For Thailand, the claim by the Kim Jong-il government that it owns nuclear weapons is the most urgent foreign affairs problem. The entire East Asian policy of recent governments has been built on the concept of bringing and welcoming North Korea into the international arena....  For the common good, the world must make at least one more effort to convince these two countries that their future is better served by peaceful, open membership in the world community than to try to go it alone by threats of massive violence.  Iranians and North Koreans would risk their own existence by even a single use of nuclear power against neighbors.  It is no longer acceptable for any country to sit back and let others try to convince Iran and North Korea in a civilized manner.  Only a worldwide effort has a chance at success.”


VIETNAM:  "Is North Korea A 'Nuclear State?'"


Official Vietnam National Youth Federation-run Thanh Nien asserted (2/15):  "Unlike the skeptical attitude of South Korea's unification minister Chung Dong-young about the veracity of North Korea 's declaration that it possesses nuclear weapons, world leaders and experts have a different observation.  They have said that if North Korea has 10 to 14 kilograms of plutonium, it probably has one or two nuclear weapons, and that North Korean efforts to produce weapon-grade uranium have been nearly successful.  The U.S. said that North Korea possibly possesses one or two, or even eight atomic bombs....  Given the situation, one can understand why the U.S., South Korea, Russia and many other states are very concerned over Pyongyang’s statement....  The threat of a nuclear crisis looms over the Korean peninsula.  If Pyongyang’s statement is confirmed, the security situation in East Asia will definitely suffer."


"A Challenge For President Bush In The New Year"


Official Ho Chi Minh City Communist Party-run Saigon Giai Phong declared (2/14):  "Iran and North Korea both announced that they would not halt their respective nuclear programs....  The Bush Administration's policies...have failed.  North Korea also said that it was pulling out of multi-party talks with Japan, South Korea, Russia, China, and the U.S.  These developments present major challenges to the Bush administration.  President Bush must decide to either accept North Korea's demand for one-on- one talks or to use tough measures against the country....  However, it could be hard for the US to persuade other permanent members of the United Nation Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran and North Korea.  President Bush is now in a dilemma to find a way to stop Iran and North Korea's nuclear program."




INDIA:  "The Onus Lies With America" 


An editorial in independent Kolkata-based Bengali-language Ananda Bazar Patrika read (2/14):  "At the moment North Korea and the US are glaring examples of how stubbornness and inflexibility can create a big and unnecessary problem....  It is not yet clear to what extent and how long this duel will continue. However, it seems there is no early solution in sight. How the US and DPRK can be brought to the negotiating table remains the basic question now....  Certainly, as long as this tug of war between the two unequal powers lasts the fear of yet another Iraq like chapter will haunt the globe. As the U.S. is the sole superpower, the primary responsibility for finding a way out of this dangerous situation rests on America itself."


"Restraint Needed"


The Bangalore-based left-of-center Deccan Herald opined (2/14):  "The controversy over North Korea's nuclear weapons program is snowballing into a crisis. After making its most explicit public assertion that it possesses nuclear weapons, Pyongyang has suspended participation in the six-nation talks on its nuclear program....  Neither the U.S. nor North Korea have participated in the talks with any sincerity or seriousness so far.

Washington's belligerent rhetoric and constant name-calling of a dialogue partner--Bush has often referred to North Korea, along with Iran and Libya, as an axis of evil--has not been helpful. Bush administration officials claim that North Korea's decision to stay away from the talks has more to do with evidence that Washington now has regarding its sale of uranium Libya in 2001, which undermines Pyongyang's claim that its nuclear arsenal is defensive. North Korea's announcement is no doubt worrisome. However, it is not a cause for alarm as Pyongyang has only suspended participation and not rejected the talks option in toto. Besides, it is likely that Pyongyang's decision is a tactic to wring concessions from its dialogue partners ahead of talks.  Consequently, North Korea's neighbors and dialogue partners should refrain from over reaction. Aggressive rhetoric, sanctions or threats of a military response directed against North Korea at this juncture, will only escalate the tension."


"The Korean Bomb" 


The centrist Tribune maintained (2/14):  "The Bush administration may have to redraw its strategy after the North Korean announcement that it has 'manufactured nukes' to face the U.S.' 'undisguised policy to isolate' Pyongyang. The news...has come at a time when the US was getting more focused on forcing Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions. Perhaps, the White House strategists thought that any success on the Iranian front would help them in getting the North Korean nuclear issue resolved through dialogue. But the situation has become too complicated with Pyongyang saying that it has no intention of participating in the six-nation talks three rounds of which have already been held.  Interestingly, President George W. Bush was unexpectedly soft on the Korean nuclear issue in his State of the Union Address....  North Korea, however, believes the US has a plan not only to cap Pyongyang's nuclear program but also to 'topple the political system in the any cost'....  The emerging scenario requires patient and tactful handling. All eyes are now focused on China, one of the few countries friendly with North Korea, to bring the aggrieved nation to the negotiating table. The US will have to lean on China more than it did earlier to ensure that the problem is sorted out through talks."


"The Answer Alas Is 'No'"


Editor-in-Chief M.J. Akbar wrote in the centrist Asian Age (2/13):  "The silence, as happens so often, was louder than an explosion....  In simpler language, North Korea was telling America: 'We have WMD.  Come and get us'....  One problem, of course, is realism. The cost of invading a nuclear state is far too high simply because of the horrendous damage it could cause even in its descent into defeat and destruction....  If Saddam actually had nuclear weapons, would America and Britain have invaded the country?....  It is curious that the U.S., formally engaged in a worldwide war against terrorism, seems so disengaged about the one country that would fit many of the paradigms that it has designed to describe the syndrome. There is credible evidence that North Korea supplied uranium to Libya when Colonel Gaddafi was a customer. Its missiles are among the best in the world. What more does North Korea have to do to identify itself as a possible if not active problem? One is not suggesting that Washington leap into war, which of necessity must remain the last option.  But question marks do begin to arise against George Bush's apparent indifference....  Is this because North Korea is not situated in the Middle East, astride substantive energy resources?....  Such questions seek an answer, but there is a secondary problem: who is now credible enough to give an acceptable answer? Is it time to turn the UN into an NGO for tsunami relief and hand over such questions to a new world body? Is a veto by a victor of a war that ended sixty years ago still the means to a solution? I don't know the answers to the previous questions, but I know the answer to the last one. No."


"Nuclear North" 


An editorial in the pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer read (2/12):  "If there is anything to be concerned about in respect of Thursday's developments, it is not North Korea's acknowledgement of the fact that it had nuclear weapons, which only confirmed what was known or feared, but its decision suspending participation in the six-nation talks....  North Korea is a rogue country known for its tyrannical domestic set-up and irresponsible international conduct typified by its missile-for-nuclear bomb technology barter deal with Pakistan.  The situation, however, is not entirely without a silver lining in that North Korea has announced that it has suspended its participation for an indefinite period and not irrevocably....  Clearly, efforts must begin immediately to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table. As in the past, China, with which it has close relations and which holds the key to its economic revival, will have to play a major role. On its part, the US must desist from doing or saying anything that increases North Korea's paranoia or gives it an excuse to keep away from the talks.  Its withdrawal from the talks clearly follows President George W Bush's statement in his inauguration speech that he was committed to end tyranny in the world, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's subsequent identification of it as one of the six countries that practiced tyranny.  President Bush should recall what President Theodore Roosevelt used to say, 'Talk softly and carry a big stick.'"


PAKISTAN:  "America’s Aggressive Designs And North Korea"


Populist Urdu-language Khabrain concluded (2/12):  "The statements coming from North Korea and the U.S. show that if the world does not take immediate steps for a reconciliation between the two, we would soon be seeing scenes from a devastating war. It is quite possible that slowly this war would engulf the entire world.  Force must not be used against North Korea so long as it does not take an aggressive step towards another country....  The need is for the U.S. to stop dreaming of becoming a global policeman, and to bring a change in its attitude.  World peace cannot be established so long as the U.S. continues to view itself as ruler of the world." 




CANADA:  "Things Just Got Worse Now That 'Dear Leader' Has The Bomb"


Jonathan Manthorpe observed in the left-of-center Vancouver Sun (2/14):  "The issue of North Korea's nuclear ambitions has been bubbling vigorously since early in 2002....  There have been three meetings between North Korea and five directly affected nations--the U.S., Japan, South Korea, China and Russia--but with little success.  Pyongyang keeps insisting it wants Washington to sign a non-aggression pact before North Korea will end its nuclear program and accept economic aid. Washington steadfastly refuses to give Kim the kudos of being treated as an equal by America. Thursday's statement included the information that North Korea was suspending its involvement in the so-called Six-Party Talks. Two events appear to have triggered Pyongyang's statement....  The Kim regime has concluded Bush remains determined to stifle North Korea or promote regime change....  Pyongyang's official admission of a nuclear arsenal is most disconcerting for China. Beijing has quietly claimed to have influence with North Korea and sought to enhance its regional political status by casting itself as an honest broker, one also able to moderate Washington's impetuous impulses. Kim's admission is a slap in the face for Beijing that will not be easily forgiven. In the U.S. and Japan, the move by Pyongyang tends to encourage the hardliners who want action--international economic sanctions at this point rather than military intervention....  In all probability, though, Thursday's statement is a bargaining ploy by Pyongyang and it would be wise not to get too excited."


"The Land Of Bad Options"


The conservative National Post editorialized (2/12):  "The announcement this week by North Korea that it possesses nuclear weapons was no bombshell....  Eliminating this threat to global security will be difficult. The ongoing multilateral negotiations involving the U.S., South Korea, Russia, China and Japan have done nothing except give Mr. Kim an outlet for the phobic, other-worldly demands and outbursts that have become his trademark. Bribing the DPRK has also achieved poor results....  Moving to more violent options, surgical strikes by special forces, missiles or smart bombs would be impossible since North Korea's nuclear testing and processing facilities are widely dispersed....  A full-scale invasion would be a bloodbath--far costlier to both sides than the war in Iraq....  But however unappealing these options, the West--led by the U.S.--could still take at least three concrete steps to minimize the threat....  First, it should put pressure on China to cut off aid to Pyongyang. Beijing persists in propping up Mr. Kim's communist regime....  Second, the U.S. should deter North Korea by reasserting its willingness to retaliate in kind for any future attack....  Washington should make it known that U.S. nuclear subs will park off the North Korean coast indefinitely, and that the U.S. missile shield currently being deployed will be configured with the aim of shooting down incoming North Korean ICBMs. Finally, to avoid the threat that it will export nuclear material to terrorist groups and other rogue states, the U.S. and its allies should consider quarantining North Korea by sea, and encourage China and Russia--the country's two northern land neighbours--to follow suit.... Of course, a quarantine might be seen as an act of war by Mr. Kim....  But such an outcome, however frightening, would still be more attractive that seeing North Korea's radioactive exports fall into the hands of al-Qaeda.  As it becomes increasingly obvious that Mr. Kim's regime has nuclear weapons, and is prepared to brandish them, the options facing the west are not good and bad, but bad and worse."


"Keep Them Talking"


The centrist Winnipeg Free Press argued (2/11):  "The threat of North Korean weapons is attenuated by the continental missile defence system the U.S. is building. If it works, that system might detect and destroy an armed missile over the Pacific before it hits a target on this continent. The same system would help protect the U.S. from other enemies who might buy weapons from Pyongyang. While that system is being perfected, however, the U.S. has to worry about North Korean capacities and intentions and try to keep them talking."


ARGENTINA:  "On The Brink"


Marcelo Cantelmi opined in leading Clarin (2/11):  "It's paradoxical for Washington and at the same time a tremendous irony: Pyongyang's strong-man, Kim Jong II warned almost two years ago that it's ready to kick off its own 'pre-emptive doctrine' and attack everything North Korea believes--in its exotic codes--is a threat. Yesterday's announcement is another impact in a series of provocations launched by Communist North Korea's feudal dictatorship since George W. Bush blocked the humanitarian aid programs. Not only does it launch its threat against the U.S., but also against China--the country that had supported it so far with a lot of difficulty. Pyongyang's double pressure is extortion to recover international aid. It knows there's no chance of an attack. But it's a dangerous move on the brink of the abyss, where today, the North Korean regime isn't the only unpredictable player."


"Again, The Nuclear Nightmare"


Ricardo Roa wrote in leading Clarin (2/11):  "If the North Koreans wanted to justify Bush--who had aligned them in the 'axis of evil'--they did. They acknowledged having the nuclear bomb, threatened to build more and openly snubbed the negotiations they were holding with the U.S. and China aimed at dismantling their arsenals. Of course, this is clearly extortion. But it’s also another demonstration of senselessness, a provocation that brings back the nightmare of a nuclear holocaust.  The danger is hyper-real: North Korea, with its present regime--cruel and nepotistic--has the fifth-largest army in the world. It’s a Communist dictatorship that resists all democratic viruses and remains isolated and against everybody. An extremely poor country turned into an enormous factory producing weapons under slave-work, which can sell missiles to whoever wants them, and now adds nukes to its arsenals.  For this reason, and because its nuclear warheads are able to reach Japan and the other Korea in minutes, North Korea is, together with Iran, at the top of the agenda of U.S. potential conflicts. Though Iran's theocratic and reactionary regime of the Ayatollahs seems progressive compared with the exotic North Korean regime....  Some believe an arms race is inevitable, but trust that the risk of mutual destruction it implies will finally neutralize its effects. Nevertheless, aside from the absurd costs represented by this balance of fear, every new member that joins the nuclear club increases in an exponential way the danger of a global catastrophe."


BRAZIL:  "North Korea"


Center-right O Globo asserted (2/13):  "Is North Korea’s unexpected declaration that it possesses nuclear weapons a mea-culpa, a threat to the world, or only Kim Jong-il’s spectacular bluff?  It could be any of these three possibilities, or none of them.  It is more likely that the North Korean regime, led to extreme despair in its self-imposed isolation, has resorted to explicit blackmail....  In the role of head of a declared nuclear power, the Dictator may expect to obtain from the outside world the necessary economic assistance it needs to feed its famine, and guarantee its own political survival....  The impression of blackmail is reinforced by the North Korean demand to discuss the issue with only the U.S....  At any rate the issue has acquired a new sense of urgency, greatly increasing the responsibility of the five negotiating countries.” 


"Nuclear Risk"


Liberal Folha de S.Paulo commented (2/11):  "The North Korean government’s announcement [that it indeed does have nuclear weapons] produces an imbalance factor....  Bush wanted an unconditional freeze of North Korea’s nuclear program in order to negotiate economic aid. Now, the U.S. strategy will have to be revised and the UN may have more relevance as a decion-making forum. A nuclear North Korea represents one more risk to the world.”


CHILE:  "Who Is North Korea Threatening?"


Libardo Buitrago held in financial Diario Financiero (2/14):  "North Korea puts the White House at a crossroads....  Perhaps Kim's remarks will be viewed again as a way to get the world’s improve its negotiating ability in its quest for financial aid, or as a clear demonstration that the U.S. cannot attack it due to North Korea’s ability to respond.  The world has been told (by the U.S.) that it will not allow these threats to prosper....  How can the U.S. maintain its credibility?  Will it resort to diplomacy to resolve this new crisis?  Many countries will be tempted to imitate North Korea.  The question then becomes, who is North Korea threatening?”


"North Korea And Its Destabilizing Strategy"


Top-circulation popular Santiago-based La Tercera editorialized (2/11):  "Once more...North Korea has resorted to a nuclear threat as a foreign policy tool.  This time, in addition to announcing it would withdraw from talks with South Korea, Russia, Japan, China, and the U.S., the communist nation clarified doubts about its nuclear weapons arsenal....  There are sufficient precedents to believe the announcement is part of North Korea’s traditional strategy of using the threat of war--even without the atomic element--to obtain political and economic concessions....  With this strategy, Pyongyang shows its total disconnect from a region in which the stability achieved with much effort over decades is highly valued.  North Korea is today the only important conflict point left in the region....  Although its goals are unclear, its policy may have serious regional consequences.”



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