North Korea continues to threaten the security of its neighbours. The regime recently carried out a series of nuclear and missile tests despite strong opposition from Asian and western countries.
The world's leading powers have been trying to defuse the crisis by peaceful means. They have offered aid to Pyongyang in return for the suspension of its nuclear facilities. But its leader, Kim Jong-il, is not interested in playing by the rules. Imposing tougher sanctions is not an effective solution to the problem. In fact, this would only increase tension between North Korea and the outside world. Negotiation is the best option.
Pyongyang's biggest allies, China and Russia, can play a major role in persuading the North back to the six-party talks. This is also a chance for US President Barack Obama to show his skills. I think we all have to get accustomed to the fact that North Korea is now a nuclear-armed country. We have to prevent the North from using its resources to build more weapons of mass destruction.
Mark Wong, St Paul's Co-educational College
From the Editor
Thanks for your letter, Mark. Before we brand North Korea a threat to its neighbours, we need to take into account that North Korea probably feels threatened itself. It seems these days everyone is condemning it for what apparently started out as a peaceful project.
Nuclear energy is extremely efficient and one of the best ways for a growing country to boost its economy. But North Korea has been forbidden to have such technology and has been mired in rounds of threats and counter-threats, promises and broken promises. Most of the world rightly assumes that nuclear technology might be initially acquired for peaceful means but inevitably leads to nuclear weapons.
But it must seem arrogant of outsiders to try to dictate to any sovereign nation what sort of energy it should use to fuel its economy, especially one in such an obvious and dire need of fuelling.