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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, October 10, 2006

China is the key to North Korea dilemma

When North Korea launched a series of unsuccessful missile launches in July, the United Nations Security Council rightly imposed limited sanctions on the rogue country.

That, apparently, was not enough.

For the second time, North Korea has conducted a nuclear test only this time it succeeded. Now this brazen act of defiance is being felt around the globe.

The calls for action have been stern and united: President Bush has called for immediate action from the U.N. Security Council; South Korea promised a stern response, with prominent party leader Kim Geun-tae calling the North's test a "provocative act," adding that "the North must clearly assume all responsibility"; and new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the test "unpardonable."

Then, there's China.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry statement issued yesterday read: "China resolutely opposes the North Korean nuclear test and hopes that North Korea will return to the six-nation talks."

But the North has already refused to take part in those talks, and, in 2003, it pulled out of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

By all indications, Kim Jong Il, the country's eccentric leader, is a man more willing to act in haste than talk with diplomacy.

Which is why China holds the key. As North Korea's strongest ally, China provides the ostracized nation with much-needed food and fuel.

To truly put the squeeze on the already-starving nation, China must align itself with world leaders and back up its words through stronger sanctions.

Turning its back on a longtime ally won't be an easy task for Beijing, but the consequences on the international community are worth the sacrifice.

Kim Jong Il has shown his threats aren't empty. Now China, and the rest of the world, must do the same.