U.S. to Urge Sanctions for N. Korea : Strategy: National security advisers meet after Pyongyang official storms out of nuclear arms talks with Seoul. Clinton Administration also will pursue joint military maneuvers with S. Korea.
The Clinton Administration, shaken by the acrimonious breakdown of nuclear disarmament talks between North and South Korea, on Saturday decided to pursue measures ranging from U.N.-imposed sanctions against the North to massive joint military maneuvers in the South.
President Clinton’s national security strategists huddled at the White House for about three hours after a North Korean negotiator threatened to turn Seoul, the South Korean capital, into a “sea of fire” as he stormed out of talks on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
“If circumstances don’t change by Monday, (Operation) Team Spirit will be rescheduled,” a White House official said in a reference to the annual maneuvers by U.S. and South Korean military forces. The exercises were canceled earlier this month in an attempt, now clearly unsuccessful, to smooth relations with the Marxist regime in North Korea.
Plans to send Patriot missile defense systems to South Korea have also been revived, the official said.
These actions could come after the International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors meets Monday in Vienna and censures North Korea, as expected, Administration officials said.
The collapse of the North-South talks and Pyongyang’s continuing refusal to permit full international inspection of its nuclear facilities spurred the United States in its decision to ask the U.N. Security Council to impose economic sanctions against Kim Il Sung’s hard-line regime.
High-level officials of the Pentagon, State Department, the U.S. mission to the United Nations and the CIA met at the White House with National Security Adviser Anthony Lake.
“The meeting was to review the situation in light of the meeting between North and South Korea,” the White House official said. “They discussed a whole range of things.”
In the border village of Panmunjom, North Korean delegate Park Young Su pulled out of preliminary talks, aimed at making the Korean Peninsula a nuclear-free area, after only 55 minutes.
“Seoul is not very far from here. Seoul will turn into a sea of fire,” Park was quoted by South Korean negotiator Song Young Dae as saying.
With its million-member army and formidable arsenal of missiles and artillery, North Korea is a daunting foe. U.S. officials say the regime, one of the most isolated on the globe, is dangerously unpredictable. Although U.S. military planners are confident that South Korea, with American help, would ultimately prevail in any conflict, there is no doubt that a North Korean attack would cause substantial casualties and would damage South Korea’s burgeoning economy.
There are 36,000 American combat troops in South Korea, most of them stationed near the border, where they would come under fire in the first minutes of any renewed conflict.
The latest crisis began after North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, touching off fears that it was trying to produce nuclear weapons. Last month, in the face of threatened U.N. sanctions, North Korea agreed to permit IAEA inspectors to visit its nuclear sites. But earlier this month, the Pyongyang regime prevented the inspectors from doing their work.
In Panmunjom, Park, the North Korean delegate, refused to even discuss South Korean demands that North Korea permit the inspections. Seoul also proposed an exchange of high-level envoys between the bitter foes.
“If you act like that, collision is inevitable and war is unavoidable,” the North Korean was quoted as saying.
The North’s official Korean Central News Agency, monitored in Tokyo by the Associated Press, blamed South Korea for the breakdown and warned that North Korea would “take a decisive self-defensive measure” if sanctions are imposed against it.
“We mean what we say,” it added.
With North-South tensions growing steadily worse, Seoul dropped its opposition to the U.S.-South Korea military maneuvers and to the deployment of Patriot missiles. Seoul had sought to block both measures in an effort to build goodwill with its northern neighbor.
On Friday, Clinton told reporters at the White House that North Korea could end its isolation and become part of the world community by agreeing to inspection of its nuclear facilities.