U.S-Japanese Alliance Reaffirmed in Face of North Korean Threat

By Jane Morse
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington - The United States and Japan are working out specifics for implementing the U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at squelching North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Speaking jointly to the press after their October 18 meeting in Tokyo, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso said they have agreed that Japan and the United States should act in coordination to implement expeditiously U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718, which was adopted October 14, just days after North Korea’s October 9 test of a nuclear device.  (See related article.)

Rice said Resolution 1718 is intended "to deal with the potential effects of North Korea trying to transfer materials or to obtain materials."  To that end, there is an obligation for U.N. member states to embargo and prevent the transfer of certain kinds of arms, Rice said.  She said "detection opportunities" using equipment in place for the Container Security Initiative are available to help prevent terrorist organizations from getting critical equipment and technology for weapons of mass destruction.  (See related article.)

"[W]e want very much this to be done in a way that is steady, effective and brings close scrutiny to North Korean transfers," the secretary said.  She said that the steps being taken are neither a blockade nor a quarantine of North Korea.

Rice emphasized that the United States "has no desire to escalate this crisis.  In fact, we would like to see it de-escalate."

When asked about the potential of Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions triggering an arms race in Asia, Aso said, "There is no need to arm ourselves with nuclear weapons," adding, "[T]he Government of Japan has no position at all to consider going nuclear."

Rice reiterated the United States' "firm commitment" to the defense of Japan in accordance with current security arrangements, including the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1960.

The secretary said that, in her discussions with Japanese officials, she had reaffirmed Bush's October 9 statement that the United States "has the will and the capability to meet the full range - and I underscore full range - of its deterrent and security commitments to Japan."

Rice, in speaking with the press en route to Japan, said the ultimate goal of international efforts is eliminate nuclear programs from the Korean peninsula.  North Korea's actions, she said, have the potential to destabilize relations in Asia that have been so conducive to peace and economic prosperity in recent decades.

Rice said she hopes that "the right combination of countries" can bring "the right combination of incentives and disincentives" to persuade Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

"I think everybody will want to diffuse the crisis - not to escalate the crisis - to find a way to use negotiation and diplomacy to reverse the North Korean program," Rice said.

Rice and Aso will fly to Seoul, South Korea, October 19 to discuss further cooperative efforts with the Republic of Korea.

Transcripts of Rice's remarks en route to Japan and with Foreign Minister Aso are available on the State Department Web site.

For more information on U.S. policy, see International Security and The U.S. and the Korean Peninsula.