- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Fear of ‘Plan B’

A delegation from the South Korean parliament came to Washington this week to check on the policies of the second Bush administration and warn against a mysterious “Plan B” that would replace peaceful negotiations with the recalcitrant regime in North Korea.

“We are concerned about talk in Washington about Plan B,” said Chung Eu-yong of the ruling Uri Party.

Mr. Chung told editors and reporters at The Washington Times that foreign policy specialists at Washington think tanks kept talking about Plan B without defining it. He, however, said there is no alternative to negotiations that his government could support.

“Any military option is out of the question for us. The outcome would be catastrophic. Fifty years ago, the nation was almost totally destroyed,” Mr. Chung said.

Mr. Chung and his colleagues from the Grand National Party and the Millennium Democratic Party said they are aware that North Korea is an unreliable negotiating partner.

“We have to be very patient in dealing with them,” he said. “North Korea is one of the most unpredictable regimes in the world.”

North Korea during the weekend refused to rejoin the multilateral talks over its nuclear weapons program. The talks include the United States, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia.

Mr. Chung said his government believes North Korea has accumulated enough weapons-grade nuclear material “for one or several warheads.”

Lee Hae-hoon of the opposition Grand National Party called for a tougher line against North Korea.

“North Korea doesn’t listen to us. We should adopt a more forceful way,” she said without elaborating.

The delegation leader, Kim Hyuk-kyu of the Uri Party, said the lawmakers wanted to meet with Washington officials to discuss the priorities of the second Bush administration.

“We wanted to deliver our message to the State Department, the White House and Congress,” Mr. Kim said.

He called for economic support for the North Korean regime because he believes such aid would raise the standard of living in the impoverished nation and “lead to the collapse of the communist system.”

“Some say the Soviet Union collapsed because of blue jeans and China opened up because of Coca-Cola,” he said, citing the influence of capitalism on a communist government.

“Economic aid will raise the standard of living and reduce the cost of unification [between the two Koreas].”

Mr. Kim said they learned that a U.S. envoy met privately with North Korean officials in New York, which appears to be contrary to the Bush administration’s public insistence on multilateral talks only.

State Department spokesman Adam Ereli this week confirmed the meeting but insisted that U.S. policy still favors only six-party talks. He said U.S. envoy Joseph DeTrani met with a North Korean representative to deliver the message that the United States is ready to resume multilateral talks “at an early date and without preconditions.”

Korea criticized

A former Japanese ambassador to the United States this week criticized South Korea for advancing a policy of appeasement toward North Korea.

“I am worried about South Korea’s current policy stance,” Shunji Yanai said in a lecture in Tokyo. “They are pushing the appeasement policy with nothing in return.”

Mr. Yanai, ambassador here from 1991 until January 2002, said his government also disagrees with the U.S. position in the six-party talks over North Korea’s nuclear program, according to Japan’s Kyodo news service.

“The United States says that what would be a problem is not North Korea’s nuclear capability but the proliferation of such capability. But the North’s nuclear capability would be a direct threat to Japan,” he said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

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