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DPRK needs handling with care

By Hu Mingyuan | China Daily | Updated: 2013-01-30 07:25

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea's satellite launch in December and recent announcement that it would conduct a "higher-level nuclear test", and the reaction they have evoked from some countries are increasing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

On Jan 22, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 2087, which demands that the DPRK fulfill its obligations under resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009), under which the DPRK should not test-fire any more ballistic missiles, conduct further nuclear tests or take other provocative actions. Pyongyang responded to the latest UN resolution, saying that it would "take physical action to strengthen self-defense military capabilities, including nuclear deterrence" and seek an end to the denuclearization talks.

The DPRK's latest statement once again highlights its determination to develop and possess nuclear weapons at all costs. Before the UN resolution, however, the DPRK had given promising signals that it was more keen on developing its economy and improving its people's livelihood, which the international community interpreted as a sign of Pyongyang's possible shift from the "military first" policy to economic reform.

The DPRK would commit a blunder by conducting another nuclear test, because that would increase the international community's pressure on it and further escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

But the onus to defuse the tensions does not rest on the DPRK alone; the United States and the Republic of Korea, too, have to show more commitment toward reconciliation.

Although another nuclear test will help the DPRK bring about greater cohesion among its people, it will not help its goal of developing diplomatic relations with the US to end its diplomatic isolation. True, nuclear weapons will instill in Pyongyang a greater sense of security. But they will also widen its chasm with Washington.

The DPRK insists that its satellite launch in December was for peaceful purposes and it is worried about the ROK making a third attempt to propel its Naro rocket into orbit on Jan 30.

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