Wed, 15 Jan 2003

RI regrets N. Korea's decision on NPT

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia regretted the heated situation in the Northeast Asian region, following North Korea's decision to pull out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), with a call on the country and its bickering partner the U.S. to end the standoff amicably.

"We deeply regret Pyongyang's decision as it is unhelpful to the situation in the Korean peninsula and, therefore, North Korea should review the decision. Indonesia has encouraged that country and the U.S. to enter discussions to end the standoff," spokesman for the foreign ministry Marty Natalegawa said here on Tuesday.

In an earlier statement, Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda expressed deep concern over the increasing number of countries producing nuclear weapons in the Asian region.

"After China and India, our region does not need any more countries producing nuclear weapons; that is why we have urged interested countries to hold more effective dialog to settle the nuclear issue in North Korea," he said.

Hassan also expressed Indonesia's readiness to play any role in supporting peace efforts, as President Megawati Soekarnoputri once played a "mailman" role to convey a peace message from Seoul to Pyongyang.

Pyongyang made the decision after the U.S., which accused North Korea of conducting nuclear experiments, stopped its food and energy aid to that communist country. The U.S. stopped the energy aid after Pyongyang asked UN weapons inspectors to leave the country recently.

The U.S., with South Korea, Russia and Japan, was providing energy aid to North Korea in compensation for the latter's readiness not to produce nuclear weapons.

North Korea has argued that its decision was a reaction to Washington's intention to come down as hard on Pyongyang as it was on Iraq regarding the possession of weapon of mass destruction by the countries.

To resolve the standoff, Washington assigned U.S. envoy to Asia James Kelly to send messages around the region that the U.S. was willing to engage in dialog with Pyongyang.

Kelly is slated to arrive in Jakarta on Friday, after visiting Beijing, Seoul and Singapore on his mission to resolve the North Korea issue.

Political analyst Dewi Fortuna Anwar said on Tuesday that the government should lobby the opposing countries to hold dialogs as the heated situation would certainly have a negative impact on other countries' economies and political situations.

"The first country that will suffer from the tension is South Korea, and the destabilization will definitely spread across the region. It would ultimately hit Indonesia," she remarked.

South Korea is the second-largest oil importer from Indonesia after Japan.

"Our government should be more active in campaigning to solve the crisis in the peninsula," she said.