US ultimatum to N Korea termed ‘policy’ statement
US blows hot and cold about North
Korea's nuke tests
BY OUR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT
October 6, 2006
The Bush administration has slightly softened its stance on North Korea’s proposed nuclear test plans, just 24 hours after it had cautioned Pyongyang against its nuke test plan. The United States had a day back told North Korea in blunt terms that it will have to choose between a future or nuclear weapons, but not both.
The softening of stance has been explained by the United States as just a statement of policy, and not an ultimatum.
The Bush administration made it clear that Pyongyang stood to face unspecified consequences should it proceed with its nuclear test, that some speculate will take place this Sunday or next Monday.
The US’ note is a statement of the
country's policy, and it explains that it doesn’t think Pyongyang should have nuclear
weapons, officials said. While all others agree to this, the US finds it tough to believe that only North Korea is reluctant to agree. A senior Washington official however refused to spell out what North Korea would have to face if it goes ahead with its nuke plan.
Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill had a day ago said that North Korea can’t have nukes and a future at the same time. Though he did not specify as to what steps the United States will take, it was made clear that Washington will do all it can to dissuade North Korea from executing the nuclear test.
Clearly stressing that the US will not tolerate a nuke-enhanced Pyongyang, the senior official said that America would have no choice but to act resolutely to make sure that North Korea understand that a nuclear test would prove t o be a very bad mistake.
The Bush administration is now awaiting Pyongyang’s response. It isn’t just America that is looking keenly for a reaction from North Korea. The whole of East Asia, and the world too awaits word from North Korea. Will it come as defiance to all the requests from US and the rest of the world, or will Pyongyang shelve its nuke test plan remains to be seen.