U.S. allegations thwart six-party talks

While the Sept. 19 round of the six-party talks aimed at resolving the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula ended successfully after the U.S. government agreed on paper to respect the sovereignty of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), November’s round was unsuccessful. Further talks do not seem to be in the cards anytime soon, mainly, many say, because of a series of provocative moves made by the Bush administration.

Since September the U.S. has accused North Korea of various offenses, including producing illegal drugs and “fake cigarettes,” proliferating weapons of mass destruction and counterfeiting American money.

The North flatly denied all such charges. “The DPRK has never issued counterfeit notes nor had ever been engaged in any illegal dealings,” said a Korea Central News Agency statement. “Such illegal activities are unimaginable in the DPRK in the light of its nature and mission.”

According to the KCNA, the Bush administration’s policy is a “foolish and mean attempt to tarnish the international image of the DPRK and shift the responsibility for the stalled six-party talks on to it at any cost.” North Korea says that it cannot participate in talks with the U.S. in the current atmosphere.

Without presenting any evidence, the U.S. has placed sanctions on eight North Korean companies, saying they were fronts for weapons proliferation. In addition, the administration imposed restrictions on a Macau bank for supposedly working with the DPRK to launder counterfeit dollars.

The U.S. alleges that North Korea produced counterfeit $100 “supernotes” in 2001-2003. According to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, however, this claim is false. In January, the NIS told Parliament that the DPRK had not been involved in counterfeiting at least as far back as 1998.

The actions of the Bush administration appear to be isolating the U.S. further, even from its one-time closest ally against the DPRK, South Korea. The South Korean news daily Chosun Ilbo, in a Feb. 13 editorial on relations between Washington and Seoul, said, “One side is either lying or thinks the other is. The bilateral relationship between the so-called allies is unraveling, and now the two can barely agree on basic facts or trust that evidence the other produces is authentic.”

North Korea said that dialogue is the best alternative in the current situation, saying in a KCNA statement that the U.S. should “lift its financial sanctions against the DPRK and sincerely work to find a solution to the problem at the six-party talks.”