02/13/2007, 00.00
KOREA

Card. Cheong: “Joy and satisfaction about nuclear disarmament”

Joseph Yun Li-sun
The cardinal, Archbishop of Seoul and Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang, gave AsiaNews his feedback about the signing of the denuclearization treaty and thanked the nations that made a pacific accord possible. There are concerns about refugees and the use of energy aid.

Seoul (AsiaNews) –The Korean Catholic Church “welcomes with joy and satisfaction the signing of the agreement for North Korean disarmament” and thanks nations who contributed “to averting a real catastrophe for all mankind.”

This is what the Archbishop of Seoul and Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang, Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, told AsiaNews a few minutes after an accord was signed between the two Koreas, Japan, Russia, China and the United States that are gathered in Beijing for six-party talks on nuclear disarmament.

Pyongyang has committed to dismantling its main atomic reactor in Yongbyon in exchange for energy aid. The make-up of projected aid is not yet clear although diplomatic sources have said 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil will be supplied in exchange for the shutting down of the first reactor. The regime is said to have committed to allowing inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency to enter its territory in exchange for a further 950,000 tons.

Cardinal Cheong said the accord “averted a catastrophe of unimaginable consequences. We are satisfied and thank God for how things turned out.” The accord “presents light and shadows, given that the energy demanded by the regime in exchange for dismantlement will go first and foremost in the tanks of the military. All the same, we must also think about the population that will benefit, even if less so.”

However, other sources of the diocese said the “signing of the accord appears to signal successful blackmail by the regime. And yet, there is no option but to accept it, given that the nuclear programme of Kim Jong-il put the Korean peninsula and the rest of the world at risk. If things had gone differently, we would have seen a nuclear conflict that would have destroyed us.”

The problem is also geo-political: “In the case of war, refugees from the north would have invaded South Korea. This is a concrete risk that must be taken into account beyond the threats of Kim. We want to welcome our suffering brothers but we are not ready to do so. Their economic conditions are disastrous and a mass exodus would transform into a reciprocal catastrophe.”

The only solution is “to wait for the death of the dictator and prepare our neighbours for a programme of gradual economic aid. It is only when the economies are on a par that we will be able to open our borders without fear and re-embrace.”

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