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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on April 12)

All News 07:01 April 12, 2017

Emergence of 'April crisis'
: Let's not get carried away with rumors on national security

Concerns over a national security crisis are rising due to North Korea's possible provocations later this month when Pyongyang marks some major political events.

North Korea will celebrate the 105th anniversary of the birthday of its founding leader Kim Il-sung on April 15 and the Korean People's Army's 85th anniversary falls on April 25. In addition, its parliamentary sessions begin this week. Pyongyang has used such occasions to carry out military provocations. In light of the looming security crisis, NBC's Lester Holt anchored the broadcaster's Nightly News from Osan Air Base earlier this month.

Rumors of an "April crisis" on the Korean Peninsula have been spreading quickly on SNS with the likelihood of a sixth nuclear test by Pyongyang. The rumors include a pre-emptive strike on North Korea and the assassination of Kim Jong-un after U.S. President Donald Trump ordered airstrikes on Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.

Tensions are simmering after the U.S. sent a Navy strike group led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to waters close to the Korean Peninsula, only three days after the first summit between U.S. President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping last week in Florida. It is rare for the Vinson to cancel a planned trip to Australia to return to the region after participating in the annual Foal Eagle-Key Resolve exercises last month. North Korea lashed out the U.S. Navy move, saying that it was ready for war with the U.S.

The first U.S.-China summit since Trump took office recently ended without a visible outcome on handling North Korea although both sides agreed that North Korea's military provocations were unacceptable and that denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula must happen. The U.S. has shown that it is willing to use force against North Korea, saying that it will take on the North on its own unless Beijing does its part to rein in Pyongyang. Trump has ordered his national security advisor H. R. McMaster to prepare a "full range of options" to combat the North's nuclear and missile threats to the U.S. and its allies.

During a grave national security situation, it is important not to get carried away by senseless rumors. As U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, the U.S. objective is not a regime change but the North's denuclearization. Korea should calmly and consistently prepare to cope with security issues while strengthening the country's vigilance posture in consultation with the U.S.

An absence of leadership has aggravated the people's concerns about national security. Presidential contenders should assuage these by assuring voters with new strategies to deal with North Korea.

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