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PacNet #6 – Pyongyang Raises the Stakes

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s initial response to Pyongyang’s surprise announcement that it felt “compelled to suspend our participation in the [six-party] talks” and that it had “manufactured nukes” was exactly right. “I think we just have to first look at the statement and then we need to talk with our allies,” Rice said, constructively adding that the North Koreans “have been told they can have multilateral security assurances if they will make the important decision to give up their nuclear weapons program. So there is really no reason for this, but we will examine where we go next.”  Wherever we go next, it should be in lock step with our allies, and especially with South Korea; unilateral, contradictory responses will only play into Pyongyang’s hands. Nonetheless, it would be wrong to disregard this latest pronouncement as mere rhetoric. Pyongyang has taken a significant step out of the nuclear closet and the other members of the Six-Party Talks should jointly respond. This incident also provides an opportunity for ROK leadership, if Seoul is up to the task.