On June 15th, a high-ranking official in North Korea reported that the North views the six-party talks as an opportunity to display its power, and as a forum to contend with the superpowers. It also believes that the six-party talks process treats North Korea like a criminal, acting as judge and jury. Moreover, the official reported that the North is considering a further nuclear weapons (NWs) test using highly-enriched uranium (HEU) in order to gain the upper hand if it returns to the talks.
In other words, the top-class elites of the North regard the six party talks as "a tough but necessary battle in which North Korea must gain victory over the other five nations and display its strength, while stalling for time in order to complete its nuclear weapons." The source appealed to the South to understand the futility of the six-party talks so long as North Korea takes such an attitude.
After Kim Jong-il's recent visit to China, the North's National Defense Commission held an internal lecture meeting for the military and the Party's executive officers. Kang Suk-joo, the deputy premier of the cabinet and one of the speakers at the meeting reported on the framework of their preparation for the six-party talks. "The six-party talks are like a battlefield in which we stand against five other nations. No matter how logical and proper our argument is, it will be difficult to defend ourselves from the union of those superpowers," he said.
Kang also said, "We felt like a criminal brought to trial at the beginning of the six-party talks. It was hard to endure that kind of atmosphere, for we were as much a sovereign nation as the others. The six-party talks are a unilateral process. They ignore what we want and they ignore our view on things. Instead, their views are imposed on us. They are trying to make us drop our nuclear program with unilateral pressure, treating us like a criminal. They are acting like a judge over us. The five nations demand strict implementation of the pact on our side, but not on their own. It is difficult for us to continue participation whilst being ignored."
Reflexively, he asked, "Why don't we just drop the whole process and stop attending? The six-party talks,” he answered, “are a necessary process for us, inspite of all that." Kang then elaborated on the North’s reasons for persisting with the talks.
Firstly, he mentioned that "the six party talks provide a stage for us to display ourselves as a 'small' but 'strong and powerful nation' in front of the whole world. Since World War II have you ever heard of any other small nation like us holding such a meeting to deal with the superpowers?" he asked. "You know how much power countries like the USA, China, Russia and Japan possess. At the six-party talks, you see them anxious to make us, a tiny little nation, give in, even with all their great power."
The second reason for attending the talks was economic, according to Kang. "We have survived so far through our own strength,” he said, “under a blockade by world powers. The source of our survival is our strong self-defense capabilities, including nuclear weapons. So it would be nonsense for us to abandon the nuclear program. However, we can certainly talk about nuclear proliferation, as well as about using nuclear power for peaceful purposes. That has always been our intention. In terms of peaceful uses of nuclear power, we need economic compensation. The six-party talks is the forum which provides us with that."
"Thirdly," said Kang, "The six-party talks are necessary for us to earn time to fulfill our nuclear policy’s goal. We don't aim to develop nuclear weapons until such time as our country will be destroyed. We will stop when we secure enough NWs to defend ourselves. Our nuclear policy is to possess enough nuclear weapons for our self-defense, while on the other hand using nuclear power for economic purposes. To do all of this we need more time. The six-party talks will earn us the time we need."
Kang concluded the lecture meeting, conveying the message that North Korea will have to proceed with a 3rd nuclear test based on HEU in order to again demonstrate its potency.
Kang's speech was important in that it was an internal commentary given on the same issue discussed by Charles Allen, the former Homeland Security intelligence chief, during his interview with Voice of America on the 16th of June. Allen worked as a special assistant to the director of the CIA from 1958. "It seems,” he said, “that the US did not assume the DPRK's facilities for uranium enrichment are as advanced as they are. It is a frightening fact that the DPRK, in addition to its plutonium based capabilities, is now developing its capabilities with HEU-based NWs."
The source emphasized the fact that, customarily, the speeches given during the lecture meeting held for top officials such as this are not freely given private opinions, and are not delivered without Kim Jong-il or Kim Jong-un's prior approval or direction. Therefore, the source said, it is a disclosure worth serious attention.
Translation by Hoyeon Choi Supervised by Danny Lee
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