CAU­TIOUS NOTE

Bi­den warns against Py­ongyang’s nu­clear arms pro­gram

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By AGEN­CIES in Seoul

US Vice-Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den said on Fri­day that the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea will never achieve se­cu­rity as long as it con­tin­ues to pur­sue nu­clear arms but added that Wash­ing­ton re­mains open to di­a­logue if Py­ongyang can show its will­ing­ness to honor its com­mit­ments.

As Bi­den ar­rived in Seoul on Thurs­day night, ten­sions were un­der­lined by the pub­li­ca­tion of new satel­lite im­ages that ap­peared to show in­creased ac­tiv­ity at the DPRK’s main nu­clear site, in line with Py­ongyang’s vows to ex­pand its weapons pro­gram.

Bi­den, in a speech at the elite Yon­sei Univer­sity about Wash­ing­ton’s Asia pol­icy, said that the United States and the world had to make it “ab­so­lutely clear” that it would not tol­er­ate nu­clear arms in the DPRK.

The US vice-pres­i­dent is on the last leg of his East Asia trip, which also took him to Tokyo and Bei­jing.

He added that the DPRK “can never achieve se­cu­rity and pros­per­ity so long as it pur­sues nu­clear weapons” and that the US is pre­pared to re­turn to the Six-Party Talks when the DPRK “demon­strates its full com­mit­ment to a com­plete, ver­i­fi­able and ir­re­versible de­nu­cle­ariza­tion”.

China has been push­ing hard for the US and the Repub­lic of Korea to re­sume the Six­Party Talks to de­nu­cle­arize the DPRK, but they in­sist Py­ongyang must first demon­strate a tan­gi­ble com­mit­ment.

The DPRK has forged ahead with its nu­clear de­vel­op­ment af­ter re­treat­ing from the Six­Party Talks in 2008, over­turn­ing its com­mit­ments made un­der a 2005 dis­ar­ma­ment deal aimed at re­ward­ing it with eco­nomic in­cen­tives.

Py­ongyang has come un­der tougher UN sanc­tions af­ter its third nu­clear test in Fe­bru­ary, which is re­ported to have boosted its ef­fort to build a nu­clear arse­nal. The test de­fied in­ter­na­tional warn­ings.

In Bi­den’s meet­ing with ROK Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye on Fri­day, the two lead­ers agreed to make joint ef­forts to de­nu­cle­arize the DPRK.

ROK For­eign Min­is­ter Yun Byung- se told re­porters at a press brief­ing that Park and Bi­den agreed to make fur­ther ef­forts to achieve a “sub­stan­tive progress” in that re­gard.

Bi­den will lay a wreath at a cer­e­mony hon­or­ing fallen US troops and will visit the Demil­i­ta­rized Zone be­tween the DPRK and ROK on Satur­day be­fore re­turn­ing to the US.

The US is cur­rently try­ing to se­cure the re­lease of two of its cit­i­zens be­ing held in the DPRK, in­clud­ing an 85-yearold Korean War vet­eran.

Bi­den on Fri­day also in­di­cated con­tin­ued US com­mit­ment to its Asian al­lies, telling Park that US for­eign pol­icy should be above sus­pi­cion.

“I want to make one thing ab­so­lutely clear: Pres­i­dent Obama’s de­ci­sion to re­bal­ance the Pa­cific basin is not in ques­tion,” Bi­den said as the two lead­ers sat down for talks.

US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama called off a trip to the re­gion in Oc­to­ber to ne­go­ti­ate with Repub­li­cans over a bud­get im­passe that had trig­gered au­to­matic cuts to US mil­i­tary spend­ing, rais­ing spec­u­la­tions in Asia that the promised re­bal­ance could be de­railed.

Park said she hoped that the six-decade-long ROK-US al­liance will deepen and de­velop fur­ther based on trust.

In his speech at the univer­sity, Bi­den said changes in Asia are re­mak­ing the world.

Tout­ing Asia’s po­ten­tial for growth, he said growth and peace are re­lated. But he added that with growth comes new ten­sions and threats. He called for a sin­gle set of rules for open eco­nomic ex­change and bet­ter diplo­matic and se­cu­rity re­la­tions so that all peo­ple can ben­e­fit.

AHN YOUNG-JOON / REUTERS

Park Geun-hye, pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of Korea, talks with US Vice-Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den as he signs the guest book upon his ar­rival for their meet­ing at the pres­i­den­tial Blue House in Seoul on Fri­day.

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