Open communication for Peninsula peace

Updated: 2013-02-23 07:59

By Su Xiaohui (China Daily)

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The Democratic People's Republic of Korea conducted its third nuclear test despite the opposition of various countries and international organizations.

Simply put, the international community is frustrated. It was reported that the test, which used a miniaturized nuclear device with greater explosive force, was successful. This represents further progress in the DPRK's nuclear capabilities, showing that the country will be able to produce a warhead small enough to mount on a long-range missile.

Besides the issue of nonproliferation, the DPRK's most recent nuclear test means that previous international efforts to prevent the country from pursuing its nuclear ambitions have once again been in vain.

At first, sanctions were widely believed to be an effective way to shape Pyongyang's behavior. The United Nations Security Council has adopted various sanctions over the years; the latest being UNSC Resolution 2087 in response to the DPRK's rocket launch in December. The resolution included asset freezes and travel bans on critical DPRK companies and officials. It strengthened and expanded the scope of existing sanctions, making them more effective and far-reaching.

Now, the US is seeking further action from the UNSC and the council is considering another round of sanctions against Pyongyang.

However, previous sanctions have failed to change Pyongyang's policy. All three nuclear tests were conducted in the context of sanctions and great international pressure, showing the DPRK will not bow to sanctions, since they do not have a devastating effect on its political regime. The country has been operating in a relatively isolated environment for such a long time that it has proclaimed itself a "self-reliant" state.

In fact, the DPRK is not concerned about the negative repercussions of its missile launches and nuclear tests. Given Pyongyang's prior experiences, it knew the nuclear test would greatly impact its relationship with the international community including the United States, Japan and the Republic of Korea. However, the negative effects are not irreversible. By using smart, diplomatic approaches the DPRK knows it can repair relations and improve its image in the international environment.

There have been calls for China to join in the sanctions against the DPRK, to isolate the country from international aid until it ceases its nuclear program. The problem is that it is against China's principle of building harmonious relationships with neighboring countries. Meanwhile, China will not yield to Western countries' attempts to punish a country, in part because it does not share the same Western values. Therefore, China will not join a union to tame the DPRK.

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