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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Oct. 3)

Editorials from Korean Dailies 09:17 October 03, 2019

Missile for dialogue
: Upcoming talks should deal with North Korean missiles

North Korea launched yet another missile Wednesday, only a day after it announced that it had agreed with the United States to resume working-level denuclearization talks this coming Saturday.

The missile, which flew about 450 kilometers at a maximum altitude of 910 kilometers, is presumed to have been launched from a submarine in waters off the North's east coast, according to the South Korean military.

It is a typical North Korean tactic to raise tensions ahead of crucial talks to increase its leverage. What is more significant this time is that it fired a ballistic missile from a submarine, which represents an evolving threat. It is apparently making significant progress in developing technology needed to carry out a nuclear strike from the sea.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the missile is believed to be of the "Pukkuksong" type, a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). It was fired at a high angle to keep the flying distance short. If it had been fired at a normal angle, it would have flown much further.

According to the JCS, North Korea appears to be developing new SLBMs to be loaded on a 3,000-ton submarine that is currently under construction. Pyongyang has launched missiles numerous times in recent years, but this was the first SLBM test since May 21, 2017. Last July, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reportedly visited the site of the submarine construction and vowed to strengthen his regime's naval forces in order to boost the country's military capability.

Kim had already declared three years ago that his country had the "full capacity" to carry out nuclear attacks from land, sea and air. Pyongyang is apparently in the process of honing its missile technology.

What is worrisome is that this missile development is not being properly checked by not only China, but also the U.S. President Donald Trump has made it no secret that he does not mind the North testing missiles as long as they are not long-range ones. He once wrote on Twitter last year after the North's continued missile tests that the North may have violated the United Nations Security Council resolutions, but, "Chairman Kim does not want to disappoint me with a violation of trust. There is far too much for North Korea to gain ― the potential as a country, under Kim's leadership, is unlimited," he said.

It is not good for the U.S. president to ignore the North's provocations just because they are not "direct" threats to America. If the "willful ignorance" is to move the denuclearization talks with the North forward, it will only make it more aggressive and dangerous. Pyongyang's increased missile technology will, someday, be an imminent and present danger to the U.S.

At the upcoming working-level nuclear disarmament talks, Washington and Pyongyang will discuss ways to narrow their differences on how to denuclearize the latter. It is important to produce meaningful results because they can lead to greater peace efforts.

But the U.S. should never fail to take issue with the North's missile tests. Something should be done about these before it is too late.

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