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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Jan. 14)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:03 January 14, 2022

Stop missile tests
North Korea faces additional sanctions

North Korea's test launch of what it claimed to be a hypersonic missile is more threatening and provocative than any of its previous ballistic missile tests. This is all the more so as it is hard to intercept such a formidable weapon.

On Wednesday, North Korea said it successfully conducted the "final" test-firing of a new hypersonic missile a day earlier. The launch came six days after the North carried out a similar test. It is unusual for Pyongyang to conduct such a test two times in less than a week.

According to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the North fired a missile into the East Sea from Jagang Province at around 7:27 a.m. The missile flew more than 700 kilometers at a maximum altitude of 60 kilometers and at a maximum speed of Mach 10, or 10 times the speed of sound.

We cannot but express grave concerns because the North's hypersonic missile could pose a serious military threat to the South. Such an advanced missile can hardly be intercepted by the missile defense system of both South Korea and the U.S. Thus, Seoul and Washington need to work out a new strategy to thwart any hypersonic missile attack from the North.

The North has continued to test-fire different types of missiles, including a submarine-launched ballistic missile, since its leader Kim Jong-un failed to make any progress during denuclearization talks with then U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi in February 2019. The North has strengthened its military arsenal although it refrained from conducting another nuclear tests or ICBM launches.

The North cannot justify its provocations under any circumstance. We urge North Korea to stop any further missile tests and other types of military provocation. The North will only face deeper isolation and additional international sanctions if it continues to violate U.N. Security Council resolutions banning Pyongyang from developing weapons of mass destruction.

The U.S. is pushing for additional U.N. sanctions against North Korea. On Wednesday, the Treasury Department imposed penalties on five North Korean individuals for illegally procuring materials for the North's ballistic missile programs. The State Department also slapped sanctions on another North Korean, a Russian and a Russian company for supporting the North's WMD activities. Such punitive measures are necessary to put more pressure on the North to give up its weapons programs and return to the negotiating table.

The Moon Jae-in administration needs to work more closely with the U.S. to better cope with growing North Korean threats. It is somewhat disappointing for Seoul to downplay the serious nature of the North's hypersonic missile tests. The government only expressed "strong regret" over the tests. President Moon seemed to be concerned more about the negative effect of the missile launches on the March 9 presidential election than on their implications on our national security.

It is time to take a tougher stance on any North Korean provocation. Seoul and Washington have committed to solve the North Korean issue through dialogue and diplomacy. But they should not condone any move by the North to develop ballistic missiles and WMD. North Korea should realize that it cannot guarantee its security and survival by only strengthening its military power.
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