- The Washington Times - Monday, January 6, 2003

A Democratic presidential candidate yesterday called President Bush's policy on North Korea a "failure" and urged that the United States improve its relations with South Korea.
Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat and a 2004 presidential candidate, said the United States should work closely with South Korea, which was sending national security adviser Yim Sung-joon to Washington this week to present a plan for easing the nuclear tensions between the United States and North Korea.
"I think the Bush policy in North Korea has been a failure," Mr. Edwards said on ABC's "This Week." "We need to rebuild our relationship with South Korea. It's deteriorated. There's been a wave of anti-Americanism there. That's enormously important."
Mr. Edwards said that Mr. Bush should send Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on a diplomatic mission "to show that we really are engaged on this issue and we care about what's going on."
Both Republicans and Democrats agreed that the Bush administration must face North Korea with the same force it is using with Iraq because both countries are "unacceptable threats" that require "active engagement" to protect America's national security interests and its allies.
"I think they both pose great threats," Senate Armed Services Committee member John McCain told CBS' "Face the Nation."
"The potential that Iraq has, if we don't stop what they're doing, is equally as dangerous as what the North Koreans have," Mr. McCain said. "We're facing a dire threat to the United States' national security and that of our allies. [North Korea] has developed nuclear weapons with the capability to deliver them to Tokyo, are progressing towards missiles that can deliver the weapons to the United States of America. This is of the most serious consequences."
Sen. Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, agreed in appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"We have to focus on both of them," Mr. Reid said. "We've been told by Secretary [of Defense Donald H.] Rumsfeld we can handle both. This administration has had a hands-off attitude" when it comes to North Korea.
Mr. Bush placed North Korea, Iran and Iraq on the same "axis of evil" in his State of the Union speech last year, but recently has announced a policy of "tailored containment" for North Korea while threatening Iraq with war.
"The North Korean situation is one that can be resolved peacefully through diplomacy," Mr. Bush said at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, last week.
Yesterday, Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, urged Mr. Bush to talk directly to North Korea to ease tensions over its nuclear program. Mr. Levin, who is the senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the United States should not have cut off talks with North Korea because the United States always should be willing to talk, particularly in a situation "as dangerous as that."
"That does not imply capitulation," Mr. Levin said on "Fox News Sunday." "It does not imply concessions. It just simply means face to face we're going to discuss the differences and they are major in order to avoid miscalculation."
Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, appearing on CNN's "Late Edition," said both problems need to be addressed similarly.
"The worst outcome would be if we then decide to use force unilaterally in spite of the United Nations, punishing Iraq for defying the U.N., allegedly, but ourselves defying the U.N., and in the meantime not doing much about Korea," Mr. Brzezinski said. "But if we handle Iraq correctly, we can use the same procedure for North Korea: international mobilization, pressure, but also some carrots if North Korea accommodates."
White House and State Department officials had no comment yesterday. Administration officials have said they will not resume direct talks with North Korea while its nuclear program is active.
North Korea acknowledged last fall that it had a uranium-enrichment program, which violated a 1994 agreement. The United States and its allies responded by halting oil supplies promised in the agreement. North Korea then announced it would reactivate its older plutonium-based nuclear program and evict international inspectors.
South Korea has been urging negotiations to end the crisis. Talks in Washington this week between the United States and South Korea are expected to involve North Korean concessions on nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees.

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