North Korea Needs to Hear Unified Condemnation of Attack
Washington — The Obama administration says China and other countries need to join the United States in sending “a clear, direct, unified message” to North Korea’s leadership that provocations such as the November 23 artillery attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong are “unwarranted, unhelpful and should cease,” according to State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.
Speaking to reporters in Washington November 24, Crowley said the attack “was a clear, premeditated action by North Korea specifically intended to inflame tensions in the region.”
North Korea violated the 1953 armistice that halted the Korean War and “fired upon a sovereign country [which] resulted in the deaths of military and civilian personnel,” he said. According to press reports, the attack left four dead, including two South Korean civilians, and injured at least 19.
Describing the incident as “a one-off, premeditated act,” Crowley said the United States does not currently believe North Korea is “preparing for an extended military confrontation.”
But the attack comes after several recent North Korean provocations through its nuclear and ballistic missile testing, the March attack on the South Korean ship Cheonan, and recent claims to have centrifuges capable of producing enriched uranium that could be used in nuclear weapons.
The Obama administration recognizes that North Korea may choose to continue taking provocative actions and the United States is “prepared to deal with the choice North Korea makes or continues to make,” Crowley said.
But in the interest of preserving peace and stability in the region, the United States, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and other countries “have to do everything we can to fundamentally change North Korea’s calculations,” he said.
Crowley said U.S. and Chinese officials “see the situation … very similarly” and share the same interests.
“We want to see a stable situation in the region. We would like to see an end to these provocations. We would like to see a political decision by North Korea to follow through on its commitments under the 2005 joint statement,” in which Pyongyang agreed to take verifiable and irreversible steps toward ending its nuclear activities, Crowley said.
Although North Korea is a sovereign country, “China is pivotal to moving North Korea in a fundamentally different direction,” he said. “We would hope and expect China would use that influence first to reduce tensions that have arisen as a result of North Korean provocations and then, secondly, to continue to encourage North Korea to take affirmative steps to denuclearize.”
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://www.america.gov)