Russia: Only Dialogue Can Resolve Nuclear Tensions

Pyongyang should no longer see itself as a "Political Survival Champion"
January 24th, 2013

As reports continue to swirl about the possibility of a third North Korean nuclear test, prominent political figures in Russia are describing the new threats as a call for dialogue with senior U.S. officials and suggest that only “political and economic dialogue” can hope to resolve the latest crisis.

Speaking today with Moscow based news agency Interfax, the Deputy Chair of the State Duma’s International Affairs Committee Vyacheslav Nikonov said that North Korea was talking of boosting its military might while simultaneously giving a “let’s talk” call to Washington.

Claiming that the Pyongyang leadership see’s itself as a “political survival champion” that has outlived “dozens of U.S presidents and the collapse of the USSR”, Nikonov  underscored how North Korea is convinced that its security depends on its own “military might”.

Nikonov went on to say,

What does the North Korean leadership want? They want talks with ‘the boss of all bosses’ – that is, with the USA, to rule out the possibility of a strike on North Korea. These talks have been promised to Pyongyang on a number of occasions, but have never taken place. It is not quite clear what security guarantees can be given. The USA definitely does not want to give Pyongyang such guarantees.

Echoing his comments, the head of Russia’s Federation Council Defence and Security Committee Viktor Ozerov today told Russian journalists that the only path that can now possibly bring about positive results is a “strictly political and economic dialogue with the leadership of Pyongyang.”

Ozerov said he saw the latest nuclear threats as North Korea’s way of telling the world that it is a significant power. “having spent many years under economic sanctions, by making such statements, Pyongyang is trying to show the scale of its plans and prove to its people and the entire world that this country is a great nuclear power.”

He further added that North Korea hopes to get the “highest return” on exchanging its nuclear program for “wide diplomatic recognition”. Most importantly, he said that Pyongyang wanted “economic and trade sanctions lifted and also force the USA, Japan, South Korea and other countries to make other concessions”.

In Seoul, U.S. Special Envoy Glyn Davies, today called on Kim Jong Un not to detonate an atomic device, saying that President Barack Obama was willing to hold ”credible negotiations”.

Today former U.S. Commander Burwell Bell said that he thought North Korea would likely test a nuclear device within the next three to four months, because “it makes no sense to develop [a missile] if you are not developing a warhead to put onto it.”

In 2009, North Korea followed up a long range rocket launch with a nuclear test after the United Nations condemned the launch with a Resolution that tightened existing sanctions.

Some observers worry that a similar pattern of events is happening now, with a third nuclear test a high possibility. However, many of the same observers also suggested a third nuclear test would take place imminently after the failed April 2012 rocket launch attempt and subsequent UN condemnation, though that didn’t happen.

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About the Author

Chad O'Carroll

Chad O'Carroll has written on North Korea since 2010 and writes between London and Seoul.