US: Diplomacy may have little effect on defiant North Korea

US: Diplomacy may have little effect on defiant North Korea
# 06 June 2010 04:36 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Diplomatic efforts to punish North Korea for sinking a South Korean warship may have little effect on a regime that "doesn’t care" about the outside world or its own people, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates told the BBC on Sunday, APA reports quoting website.
North Korea’s defiant stance posed a "dilemma" for world powers struggling to find effective measures against Pyongyang short of military action, Gates said, according to a transcript of his interview.
Gates said that "as long as the regime doesn’t care what the outside world thinks of it, as long as it doesn’t care about the well-being of its people, there’s not a lot you can do about it, to be quite frank, unless you’re willing at some point to use military force.
"And nobody wants to do that."
There was no desire to trigger the collapse of the North or "to see another war on the peninsula," he said.
"So how do you gain purchase with a regime that doesn’t seem to care what happens to it?"
Citing the unpredictable nature of the regime, Gates said the North’s motives in the alleged sinking of the South Korean ship remained unclear and raised the possibility of yet more "provocations."
"And one has to wonder what they were thinking and whether there are other provocations to come," he said.
Gates was speaking on the sidelines of the Shangri-La security forum in Singapore where he pledged full support to Seoul and called for international action to hold Pyongyang to account for the alleged torpedo attack on the Cheonan that killed 46 South Korean sailors.
But in the BBC interview, he sounded pessimistic about the prospects for pressuring the North as he described the communist regime’s pattern of behavior.
He said North Korea often surprised its closest ally, China, with aggressive acts, and that Beijing’s influence over the North should not overstated.
"There’s no doubt in my mind that China has perhaps the greatest influence of any outside power on North Korea. But I think that’s far from control," he said.
"And the frequency with which the North Korean regime surprises the Chinese I think illustrates that."
Gates’ grim description of the challenges facing efforts to hold North Korea accountable came after Seoul appealed to the UN Security Security to take up the crisis.
Tensions have soared on the peninsula since a multinational probe last month concluded a North Korean torpedo sank the Cheonan, triggering trade reprisals from South Korea and threats of war from the communist North.
In a speech on Saturday in Singapore, Gates said the US administration was looking at "additional options" against the North, apart from UN diplomacy and planned military exercises with South Korea.