Thursday China once more proposed resuming the long stalled six-party talks with North Korea. While some say the talks have been fruitful, they have not stopped North Korea from further developing its program.
The Chinese foreign ministry said, “The six-party talks remain an important platform for the realization of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and also an important mechanism for the improvement of relations between relevant parties. We hope that our relevant parties will stick to the six-party talks and solve relevant issues through dialogue.” (Yonhap News)
The United States, South Korea, and Japan have stated North Korea must first abandon its nuclear program before they are willing to return to the six-party talks. North Korea brushed off the request and responded by asking to be recognized as a nuclear power. With two-thirds of the six-party nations on polar opposite sides of the spectrum, it’s evident calling for resumption is nothing more than a public relations move on the part of China. It provides a view China is attempting to get the conversation going again, but it’s the wrong conversation to have.
North Korea is not going to abandon its nuclear program. They have said so many times. The United States, South Korea, and Japan need to recognize this. While the goal of denuclearizing the peninsula should be maintained, the focus should be on China, Russia, United States, South Korea, and Japan developing a reason why North Korea should abandon its program. That question has never been answered and until it is, North Korea will continue down its current path.
When it’s broken down to its simplest answer, the reason why the West says North Korea should abandon its nuclear program is, “Because we say so.” Since North Korea behaves like a spoiled child getting ultimately what ever it wants, that approach is useless. There needs to be a proper incentive dangled in front of Kim Jong-un to warrant a change in behavior.
The greatest challenge to the members of the six-party talks will be uncovering what would make a suitable incentive. To date, North Korea has gotten everything it has ever wanted without changing its behavior. Convincing them to change their course of action now, might just be near impossible. Realistically, do you think the West can develop a plan of action that will properly entice Kim to change his ways? Personally, I do not. The only way to bring about change in North Korea would be to bring in a new leader.