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2007/10/19 11:13 KST
Seoul failed to get U.S. assurance against military strike on N. Korea: scholar

   WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korea tried unsuccessfully to get Washington's assurance that the United States will not attack North Korea without Seoul's consent, a fear felt following the announcement of the "Bush doctrine" in late 2002, a U.S. scholar said.

   Bruce Cumings, a history professor at the University of Chicago who closely follows Korean affairs, said Seoul-Washington relations have drastically deteriorated in the past years due to Washington's policies toward North Korea.

   South Koreans immediately grasped the acute danger when U.S. President George W. Bush announced his new doctrine of pre-emptive strikes, a notion that the U.S. has the right to use all military and covert force if faced with threats from rogue regimes with weapons of mass destruction, Cumings wrote in a piece posted Thursday on the Nautilus Institute web site.

   The announcement, in the National Security Strategy of the United States, published Sep. 2002, coincided with U.S. allegations that North Korea had broken a bilateral agreement to freeze all its nuclear activities by secretly engaging in a uranium-based atomic weapons program.

   "Soon after the doctrine became public, a close adviser to (South Korean President) Roh Moo-hyun told Bush administration officials that if the U.S. attacked the North over South Korean objections, it would destroy the alliance with the South," Cumings said.

   "Leaders in Seoul repeatedly sought assurances from Washington that the North would not be attacked without close consultations or over Seoul's veto," he said, without naming who the involved officials were from the two countries.

   "The Roh administration has not won these assurances."
To restore trust and confidence between Seoul and Washington, the U.S. could take steps including normalization of relations with North Korea or guarantee Seoul that it will have a veto over the use of military force against Pyongyang, Cumings said.