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Pyongyang back in black?
North Korea hasn’t yet rejoined the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, but weekend comments from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the nation was mulling the possibility were replayed by Japanese media with the same gusto they gave reports on Japan qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.
Pyongyang, an initial member of President George Bush’s “axis of evil” in 2002, was removed from the U.S. blacklist last October, after agreeing to a series of nuclear site verification measures.
“Obviously, they were taken off the list for a purpose, and that purpose is being thwarted by their actions,” Clinton said.
Those actions include a nuclear test on May 25 and a raft of missile launches, all of which is expected to produce a new U.N. Security Council resolution as early as this week.
Japan’s Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone met with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi over the weekend in Tokyo and called for strong U.N. action to broaden measures imposed after the first nuclear test in 2006.
But just how strong is an issue for Beijing, Pyongyang’s traditional ally and biggest trading partner, which is worried that instability — financial or otherwise – in the North may spill over if measures are too stringent.
Greater distance both diplomatically and geographically is prompting a harder line from some Japanese groups like the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, which urged the U.S. last year not to take North Korea off its list and is calling for more Japanese action now, while politicians from both major parties and media are also joining the verbal fray.
Editorials since the nuclear test have ranged from the Yomiuri Shimbun saying North Korea should suffer consequences to the more liberal Asahi Shimbun this week calling a push for first strike capability on North Korean missile sites or a decoupling from the U.S. security umbrella “overheated rhetoric” and “narrow-sighted, frivolous” defense arguments.
Stil, if the U.N. passes sanctions and Pyongyang retaliates with “extreme” measures as threatened Monday, words and lists may take a backseat to actions with red cards certain to fly.