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(EDITORIAL from the Korea Times on March 5)

All Headlines 09:42 March 05, 2016

Don't miscalculate
NK's nuclear threat to aggravate us a lot

North Korea's young dictator, Kim Jong-un, threatened to use nuclear weapons against the South as the second response after the imposition of the U.N.'s toughest sanctions against Pyongyang in two decades since its weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) became an international issue.

"Our deployed nuclear weapons will be ready to fire at a moment's notice all the time," Kim was quoted by the North's media on Friday. "We will put our military on a preemptive status."

Kim's remarks were preceded by the North's firing of what turned out to be projectiles from its newly developed long-range guns, in its first response after the U.N. action.

Kim should understand the gravity of the situation, being condemned even by his country's traditional friends -- China and Russia -- and refrain from resorting to his country's typical way of getting its way through threats. These threats, rhetorical or physical, would only deepen its international isolation and encourage even stronger action by the international community.

It is a foregone conclusion that, given time, the new U.N. sanctions would put a stranglehold on the North's economy, and any provocations by the North would make for a new reason to impose even more severe sanctions.

Even at the height of the standoff, it is the collective wish of all outside the North to see it give up its WMDs, come to the negotiation table and talk it through. As pointed out in previous editorials, the North would be given a chance to rehabilitate itself and join the world community if it gives up its nuclear weapons and missiles.

But this peace wish should not be taken as a sign of weakness. The North is tempted to make reference to the past when the South and, by extension, the world appeared to succumb every time when the North made a threat of war. This time, Kim should not expect the same response. Already, the allied forces of the South and the U.S. have trained for advanced attacks to take out the North's strategic assets even before they are deployed.

For instance, included in recent joint training was a U.S. team, the same type that the U.S. used against a high-value target such as Osama bin Laden. It is a good thing that even Kim mentioned this team's so-called Operation Beheading in his Friday threat, meaning he was aware of the spearhead of the capabilities by the joint forces.

Also, the indication is that a significant change is under way in their strategy and level of confidence to address the North's blackmail tactic beforehand. The North's bullying has so far worked on the basis of fear in the South that has a lot more to lose than the North, and Pyongyang would be fanatic enough to commit a suicidal mission at a national level.

Such a possibility could not be completely excluded and any bet against this happening is still risky when the lives of millions are at stake. If there is any lesson from the ongoing standoff with the North, it would be that if the South acquiesced to the North's threat, it would be bullied around by the rogue state for a long time to come and we would give up our right to self-determination as well.

We should fight not to let that happen.

The best policy against the bullying North is to let it know that it will pay for its miscalculations and nobody else will help it pay.
(END)

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