Accessibility links

Time Running Out for Settlement of N. Korean Nuclear Dispute, Says Seoul - 2003-01-24

A special representative of South Korea's president-elect said Friday that time is running out for North Korea to settle the dispute over its nuclear program. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland the envoy said the world will not turn a blind eye if North Korea threatens the peace.

South Korean envoy Chung Dong-young says time is not on North Korea's side in its nuclear dispute.

"North Korea must face up to the reality that if it continues to threaten peace, the international community will not simply turn a blind eye," he said. "Time is not on North Korea's side."

Mr. Chung promised North Korea has much to gain if it gives up its nuclear program. He says in the right circumstances, aid for the impoverished country could even exceed North Korea's own expectations.

"We are considering a bold North Korea reconstruction plan to move towards [creating] the Korean peninsula economic community," he said. "We will go beyond the policy of reconciliation and cooperation and move toward a policy of peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula."

South Korea announced Friday it would send a special envoy to Pyongyang next week to discuss the nuclear crisis.

In Vienna Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency announced its board will meet on February third to discuss the North Korea situation, and decide whether to refer the issue to the U.N. Security Council.

The top U.S. arms control diplomat, Undersecretary of State John Bolton, has said Washington expects the Security Council to take up North Korea's arms program soon, but will not push for the swift imposition of sanctions.