In a rare show of solidarity, the United States, South Korea and Japan held a trilateral meeting on Monday to send a strong message aimed at China, which is seen as shielding North Korea.
The three nations condemned North Korea's attack on Yeonpyeong island on Nov. 23 as a violation of the 1953 Armistice Agreement. The Ministers affirmed that the DPRK’s (North Korea) provocative and belligerent behavior threatens all three countries and will be met with solidarity from all three countries, said a joint statement issued after the trilateral meeting.
The ministers also condemned the North's construction of a uranium enrichment facility, saying it was a violation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874 and North Korea’s commitments under the September 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks. The resolutions refer to sanctions imposed after North Korea's nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, respectively.
All the three nations which are party to the Six-Party talks on North Korea's nuclear program reiterated their stand that the North should first demonstrate its genuine commitment to complete, verifiable, and irreversible de-nuclearization.
The united stand by the three, is not merely a show of solidarity as they sought to put it but revival of collective security or forming into a military shield against opponents that disappeared after the end of the Cold War. They have noticeably decided to strengthen multilateral cooperation to prevent North Korean proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and reaffirmed that proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, as well as their means of delivery, which means the next step to deal with Pyongyang would be a concerted effort by all the three nations.
Turning to China, the trio said Beijing, which supported the Sept. 2005 statement of the Six-Party Talks should take efforts to urge North Korea to adhere to its commitments.
On sanctions against the North, they made it clear that Pyongyang should first cease its provocative behavior, fully abide by the terms of the Armistice Agreement, and comply with its bilateral and international obligations, sounding more like a stern warning. Moreover, the ministers sought Russia's involvement as it was also one of the parties to Six-Nation Talks.
Now that the new trilateral cooperation has been formalized to deal with North Korea, the focus will be on Beijing's response, which would invariably be a repetition of its stand that the six nations should resume talks not to discuss de-nuclearization but to engage the belligerent and sanctions-hit nation. Russia may also appeal the three and North Korea to calm down and return to talks.
This comes close on the perception that individual countries are using negotiations to prolong their nuclear ambitions. A decade of U.N.-backed negotiations on Korea and Iran has produced no significant results, much less an end to Iranian or Korean programmes, Henry Kissinger, the veteran former architect of U.S. foreign policy told military officers and strategists at a conference of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in September.
It becomes a method used by proliferators to gain time. Negotiations on proliferation and sanctions come to be defined by their attainability, not by their consequences. In this manner collective security begins to undermine itself.
As the Korean tension is unlikely to subside in near future, the move by the trio reflects resurrecting the old collective security model that disappeared after the end of the Cold War.