High-level American envoys visiting Seoul say they are cooperating with
regional allies to dissuade North Korea from the path of nuclear
weaponry and back to dialogue aimed at disarmament. The delegation is
making stops around Asia for consultations on how to respond to last
month's nuclear weapon test by the North.
Secretary of State James Steinberg says Washington is working closely
with South Korea, Japan, China and Russia on measures to rebuke North
Korea for its recent nuclear test.
"We need to take steps to
make clear to the North that the path it's on is the wrong one, but
that we are prepared, if they are prepared to change course, to enter
an effective dialogue that will really lead to the complete and
verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," he said.
Range of options
met with South Korean counterparts here in Seoul, Wednesday. It is
part of an Asian diplomatic tour with senior U.S. officials
representing the Obama administration. He says a "range of options"
are being considered to punish North Korea for its nuclear test last
month. He says no specific options have been ruled in or out,
including financial sanctions targeting North Korean business interests.
Korea's missile test last month was the second in the country's
history. It was one of a series of actions that have escalated
tensions with the United States and the North's regional neighbors.
analysts see Pyongyang's confrontational strategy as an attempt by
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il to reassert domestic control and lay
the groundwork for a succession of power. South Korea's intelligence
agency informed lawmakers Tuesday the North's leader appears to have
designated his youngest son as his eventual replacement.
Korea is now reported to be planning test launches of mid-range
missiles, as well as at least one long-range missile, hypothetically
capable of reaching the United States. Pyongyang says not only will it
not return to talks aimed at getting rid of its nuclear weapons, but
plans to reprocess more weapons material in the near future.
Sneider is with Stanford University's Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research
Center. He says neither the Obama administration, nor any future one,
can afford to recognize North Korea as a nuclear weapons nation.
would, for one thing, undermine our alliances with South Korea and
Japan.. and, frankly it would set an increasing risk of serial
proliferation in this region," he said. "It would give further
encouragement to those - in Iran, first and foremost - who are on a
similar path, who have sought and gotten the help of North Korea to get
there. So we can't do that."
Separately, U.S. Air Force
officers in South Korea said Wednesday they will soon retire the U-2
spy plane used for maintaining surveillance of North Korea. They plan
to begin using unmanned aircraft, like the ones deployed in