Iraq masks a second emerging crisis, no less dangerous, perhaps even more: North Korea. The recent interception of an American spy plane in international airspace by four North Korean fighter jets over the Sea of Japan, Sunday March 2, ... gives the impression that the Korean Peninsula is skidding.
Wrong or right, North Korea feels it is the next target of Washington after Iraq; it intends to show it is not intimidated by the United States. ...
Washington insists it does not want war with North Korea and is favorable to negotiating a solution to the crisis started by the nuclear ambitions of Pyongyang.
But the more the Americans delay restarting dialogue with Pyongyang, the more the process of reactivating a (nuclear) reprocessing facility in Yongbyon, capable of producing plutonium, becomes inescapable.
Le Monde, Paris - March 5
North Korea, out of its growing sense of
isolation, might well take such outrageous actions as test-launching ballistic missiles and starting nuclear reprocessing facilities. The Bush administration says it has no intention of attacking North Korea. But it also believes North Korea already has nuclear weapons. The United States might not hesitate to use force if it believes North Korea has the capability to conduct a nuclear attack on the U.S. mainland.
North Korea would then retaliate, throwing the Korean Peninsula into chaos. This scenario would be the worst-case nightmare for Japan as well. The danger of brinkmanship is that the perpetrator can go over the brink without even realizing it, and fall into that void itself. The United States should open direct talks with North Korea before the circumstances develop into such a stage. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi should be more emphatic in urging the United States to do so. It is one thing to discuss with the other country how to end its nuclear development program and quite another to give in to nuclear blackmail.
South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun's administration has placed the highest priority for now on a policy to advance toward resolution of North Korea's nuclear development. Cooperation between Japan and South Korea has become even more important, not only regarding North Korea, but toward the United States as well.
Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo - Feb. 28
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