Kim Jong Il Collage 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Days ahead of an expected new UN resolution that would toughen sanctions against North Korea, President Barack Obama's special envoy issued a plea for renewed international dialogue and explicitly ruled out any military action against the communist country.
Stephen Bosworth, the special envoy on North Korea, used an appearance Tuesday night before The Korea Society's annual dinner to undercut Pyongyang's justifications for defying the UN Security Council and conducting a second nuclear test, its latest provocation resulting in the likelihood of added council sanctions this month.
But he also made clear, without elaborating, that the Pentagon would not sit on its hands.
"North Korea's recent actions to develop a nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile capacity require that we expand our consideration of new responses, including our force posture and extended deterrence options," Bosworth said.
"However, the North Korean claim to be responding to a 'threat' or a 'hostile policy' by the United States is simply groundless," he said. "Quite to the contrary, we have no intention to invade North Korea or change its regime through force, and this has been made clear to the DPRK repeatedly," he added, using the acronym for Democratic People's Republic of North Korea.
Bosworth signaled that the United States will still try to resuscitate the so-called six-party talks with the North as well as work with other members of the United Nations. North Korea has vowed not to resume participation in the six-party talks with the US, Japan, South Korea, China and Russia.
"There is no doubt in my mind that negotiation and dialogue are the best means to achieve the goal of complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Bosworth said. "We have not walked away from the negotiating table and we remain ready for serious negotiations with the North Koreans."
Bosworth concluded that North Korea faces a choice: "They can stay in the darkness of the cave, and see the world only as shadows. Or they can come out into the light of the international community."
That remark drew an "observation" from former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who along with Chung Mong-koo, the chairman of Hyundai Motor Co., was on hand to accept The Korea Society's top award.
"Of course we want North Korea to come out of its caves and enter the community of creative nations," Kissinger said. "But what they can't do is come out of the caves and duck back into it every six months, kicking over all the agreements they have made as they came out."
Chung, who praised strengthened US-South Korean relations, was among three high-profile business tycoons to have won a South Korean presidential pardon last year overturning a criminal conviction. Chung's three-year prison term already had been suspended after he was convicted of embezzlement and breach of trust on charges he raised a $100 million slush fund from affiliates.
South Korea secured the job of UN secretary-general for Ban Ki-moon, its former foreign minister, with key backing from the Bush administration. Now, the Obama administration has been pressing for new UN steps aimed at cutting off North Korea's ability to sell its nuclear wares, including an arrangement to interdict air and sea shipments of nuclear materials and hardware to and from North Korea.
Kurt Tong, director of the US State Department's Office of Korean Affairs, said after Bosworth's speech that a new UN resolution on North Korea was expected to be put forward by the end of this week.
A new UN resolution has been negotiated behind closed doors since May 26 by the five veto-wielding Security Council nations - the US, China, Russia, Britain and France - and by Japan and South Korea, the two countries most closely affected by North Korea's May 25 nuclear test.
A draft text has included new financial sanctions, expanding the arms embargo imposed after the North's first underground test in 2006 and explicitly authorizing both the boarding of a ship on the high seas with the country's consent and redirecting it to a port if the ship refuses inspection.
US Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters Tuesday, speaking on behalf of the seven countries, that they hoped the talks would be concluded "relatively soon" after working through "a large set of very complex difficult issues." In a statement, Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said a "consensus is emerging" on a draft text.
North Korea, in an apparent effort to undermine efforts to punish it for its recent atomic test blast, said Tuesday it would use nuclear weapons in a "merciless offensive" if provoked. The rhetoric also marked a shift from Pyongyang's long-time claim that its nuclear weapons program are only defensive in nature against what it calls US attempts to invade it.