World lead­ers to at­tend Korea nuke sum­mit

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY DAVE BOYER

With un­pre­dictable and nu­clear-armed North Korea on ev­ery­one’s mind, South Korea will host a nu­clear se­cu­rity sum­mit be­gin­ning Mon­day that will draw the most for­eign lead­ers ever to visit the coun­try.

More than 40 heads of state, in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent Obama and the lead­ers of China and Rus­sia, will gather in Seoul, pri­mar­ily to dis­cuss ways to pre­vent ter­ror­ists from ob­tain­ing nu­clear ma­te­rial. The de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of North Korea isn’t ex­pected to ap­pear on the of­fi­cial agenda, but it’s likely to be dis­cussed ex­ten­sively as lead­ers hud­dle in side­line meet­ings.

“The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion wants to fo­cus pri­mar­ily on nu­clear se­cu­rity,” said Scott Sny­der, di­rec­tor of the U.s.-korea pol­icy pro­gram at the Coun­cil on For­eign Re­la­tions. “But South Korea will be try­ing to use this sum­mit in­di­rectly to put pres­sure on North Korea.”

North Korean ten­sions

Con­cern about North Korea’s bel­liger­ence is as high as ever, with in­ex­pe­ri­enced Kim Jong-un tak­ing the lead­er­ship role late last year and Py­ongyang’s an­nounce­ment that it will launch a satel­lite into space in mid-april on a long-range rocket.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, which had just reached an agree­ment with North Korea to sus­pend nu­clear tests, uranium en­rich­ment and long-range mis­sile launches in ex­change for food aid, has called the launch an­nounce­ment “highly provoca­tive.”

Both Ja­pan and the U.S. said a launch us­ing bal­lis­tic mis­sile tech­nol­ogy would vi­o­late U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions.

South Korean For­eign Min­is­ter Kim Sung-hwan said there are other in­ter­na­tional fo­rums, par­tic­u­larly six-party talks, for deal­ing with North Korea.

But he said the dis­cus­sion on nu­clear se­cu­rity in Seoul should send a mes­sage to Py­ongyang that “the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity sup­ports peace on the Korean Penin­sula.”

North Korea has la­beled the sum­mit an “un­sa­vory bur­lesque” that is in­tended to jus­tify an atomic at­tack.

A broader fo­cus

The White House in­sists that the sum­mit in North Korea’s back­yard will fo­cus on a host of in­ter­na­tional nu­clear pro­lif­er­a­tion is­sues, although Py­ongyang’s ab­sence will demon­strate its decision to con­tinue its nu­clear pro­gram de­spite se­vere in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions.

“The Nu­clear Se­cu­rity Sum­mit is not about North Korea,” Danny Rus­sell told re­porters Tues­day. “It is about the chal­lenges of se­cur­ing fis­sile ma­te­rial. It’s about the com­mit­ment of the par­tic­i­pat­ing na­tions to honor their pledges and their com­mit­ments, and it’s about the emerg­ing role of the Repub­lic of Korea as a sig­nif­i­cant con­trib­u­tor to the global good. North Korea will be the odd man out. “

The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity also is grap­pling with the im­me­di­ate threat of how to re­solve peacefully the sub­ject of Iran’s nu­clear am­bi­tions, and the sum­mit will also pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for Mr. Obama to con­tinue to push for more in­ter­na­tional pres­sure on Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad.

Ear­lier this week, Rus­sia and China joined the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil in voic­ing sup­port for Arab League en­voy Kofi Anna’s bid to end vi­o­lence that has brought Syria to the brink of war. Rus­sia and China have twice ve­toed res­o­lu­tions con­demn­ing Mr. As­sad’s as­sault on demon­stra­tors.

The pres­i­dent’s agenda

Sun­day af­ter­noon, the pres­i­dent plans to meet with the prime min­is­ter of Turkey to dis­cuss a range of top­ics, in­clud­ing U.S. sup­port for po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic re­form through­out the Mid­dle East and Africa and the abil­ity to con­sult on Iran.

On Mon­day morn­ing, Mr. Obama will de­liver a speech at Hankuk Univer­sity of For­eign Stud­ies, out­lin­ing his goals for the nu­clear sum­mit. Af­ter­ward, he will meet with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Medvedev — his final meet­ing with Mr. Medvedev be­fore he leaves power in May — and sep­a­rately with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao.

Mr. Obama also in­tends to use the visit, his third to South Korea, for a Sun­day photo-op trip to the de­mil­i­ta­rized zone sep­a­rat­ing the two coun­tries. Ev­ery U.S. pres­i­dent since Ron­ald Rea­gan has vis­ited the DMZ; Mr. Obama didn’t ven­ture there dur­ing his first two trips.

“The visit it­self is a demon­stra­tion of the pres­i­dent’s grat­i­tude for the ser­vice of the Amer­i­cans on the penin­sula, and his per­sonal in­vest­ment in this al­liance, and his per­sonal com­mit­ment to the se­cu­rity of the Repub­lic of Korea,” Ben Rhodes, a White House na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, told re­porters ahead of the trip.

The host’s big stage

Against that back­drop, South Korea Pres­i­dent Lee Myung-bak will host the sum­mit that serves as the final in­ter­na­tional high­light of his five-year term, which ends next Fe­bru­ary. Mr. Lee has made South Korea’s emerg­ing in­ter­na­tional promi­nence a fo­cus of his ad­min­is­tra­tion, and has main­tained a close re­la­tion­ship with Mr. Obama.

“It’s clearly an­other feather in the cap of a South Korean pres­i­dent who talked about global Korea,” said Vic­tor Cha, for­mer di­rec­tor of Asian af­fairs on the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil un­der the sec­ond Pres­i­dent Bush. “He hosted the G-20, won the bid for the 2018 Win­ter Olympics, and now is host­ing the nu­clear sum­mit. They are three very clear bench­marks for his view that Korea should be more global and should not sim­ply be wrapped around the axle about North Korea.”

Mr. Cha, chair­man of the Korea pro­gram at the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, said Mr. Lee’s suc­cess on the in­ter­na­tional stage stands in con­trast to his sta­tus as a lame-duck leader at home.

“Gen­er­ally his rep­u­ta­tion and the rep­u­ta­tion of Korea in­ter­na­tion­ally is quite high,” Mr. Cha said. “Un­for­tu­nately within Korea, it’s the com­plete op­po­site. He gets no credit for any of this stuff, and he’s ter­ri­bly un­pop­u­lar in­side of his coun­try.”

Fukushima’s im­pact

While the sum­mit’s fo­cus is pre­vent­ing ter­ror­ists from get­ting their hands on nu­clear weapons, the nu­clear dis­as­ter in Fukushima, Ja­pan, also looms large over the con­fer­ence. It’s a del­i­cate bal­ance for the South Kore­ans, who are a ma­jor ex­porter of nu­clear re­ac­tors for com­mer­cial use.

But the op­po­si­tion party is cam­paign­ing in par­lia­men­tary elec­tions this spring on a plat­form of shift­ing away from nu­clear power.

There are 23 nu­clear re­ac­tors at four plants in South Korea, gen­er­at­ing nearly one-third of the na­tion’s electricity. A South Korean con­sor­tium re­cently won a $20 bil­lion con­tract to sup­ply four nu­clear re­ac­tors to the United Arab Emi­rates.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.