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17/03/2009 | Obama's missile test

Editorial

NORTH KOREA has announced plans for a satellite - read missile - launch between April 4 and April 8. President Obama needs to seek ways to dissuade Pyongyang from firing a missile over the Sea of Japan and the Pacific.

 

But if that fails, the Obama administration will have to muster the kind of restraint the previous administration displayed in 2006. President Bush's North Korean envoy, Ambassador Christopher Hill, still managed to engage in fruitful negotiations with North Korea just weeks after it conducted a nuclear test explosion.

North Korea has not been shy about voicing its grievances with the United States, Japan, and South Korea - three members of the six-party Beijing talks on denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Japan and South Korea, for disparate reasons, have not been delivering the heavy fuel oil the North is supposed to receive in exchange for disabling its sole nuclear reactor in Yongbyon. If the Obama administration cannot convince its Japanese and South Korean allies to make the oil deliveries, it could seek other sources. North Korea doesn't care where the fuel comes from.

But the administration's priority must be on American actions that stand a chance of avoiding a North Korean missile launch.

The first step in avoiding a missile launch ought to be US-North Korean dialogue at the highest possible level. Since the North has already turned down a request for a visit from the new US envoy for North Korea, dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts Stephen Bosworth, Obama might consider sending Bill Clinton or Henry Kissinger - figures who could expect to be received by North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

The message to Kim should be that the Obama administration intends to live up to the terms of the six-party agreements, eventually including a peace treaty ending the state of war with the North and the establishment of full diplomatic relations.

If no such talks are held and North Korea does launch a missile in the guise of a satellite, Obama should discourage Japan from trying to shoot it down. Doing so would only place Japan, rather than North Korea, on the wrong side of international law.

Obama will also need to refrain from imposing sanctions on the North if it goes through with a ballistic missile test. Sanctions will not produce the desired results. Only in direct, give-and-take negotiations can North Korea be persuaded to close down its missile and nuclear programs.

Boston Globe (Estados Unidos)

 


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ver + notas
 
Center for the Study of the Presidency
Freedom House