Pyongyang sees advantage in resisting N-checks, says Dr Yeo

NORTH Korea might be resisting full nuclear inspections because Pyongyang saw it as an advantage when the world could not confirm that it had nuclear weapons, said Singapore Defence Minister Dr Yeo Ning Hong.

He was responding to a question by the Armed Forces Journal International, a US-based defence publication, on North Korea’s hardline position on the nuclear inspection issue.

Dr Yeo said that full inspections would reveal if North Korea was developing nuclear weapons.

It would then be forced to stop such work.

On the other hand, said Dr Yeo: “If inspections reveal that North Korea has not developed nuclear weapons, then it will lose the means to wring more political and economic concessions from the US and other countries.”

The minister said that the end of the Cold War had left North Korea more isolated than ever.

But the uncertainty over whether Pyongyang might have produced a nuclear bomb or had plans to do so compelled Washington and Tokyo to keep talking with North Korea.

In the process, they offered inducements to Pyongyang to co-operate, he said.

Asked how North Korean intransigence over the nuclear inspection issue would affect regional stability, he said that it would trigger an arms race in North-east Asia.

On Asean’s role in resolving the current problems in the Korean peninsula, he said that Asean countries could do very little since they did not have any direct influence over North Korea.

Turning to US policy towards the region, he said that Asia-Pacific countries were reassured that Washington would remain engaged in the region.

He said that the Asean Regional Forum, which brought together all the major players in the region, would be a sounding board for the region’s security concerns.

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