Go to Contents Go to Navigation

(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Nov. 4)

All News 06:53 November 04, 2022

Stop escalating tensions
Allies should be prepared for North's next nuclear test

North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) toward the East Sea on Thursday, further raising tensions on the Korean Peninsula. It also launched two short-range ballistic missiles. The test-firing posed a great threat to South Korea and its neighboring countries in East Asia although the ICBM seems to have failed in flight. It was also a grave threat to global peace and stability.

The ICBM launch was the seventh of its kind by the North this year and the first since late May. The missile, presumed to be Hwasong-17, flew about 760 kilometers at a maximum height of 1,920 kilometers and at a top speed of Mach 15 after being fired from the Sunan area in Pyongyang. The provocation is a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions which prohibit the North from developing ICBMs and other weapons of mass destruction.

The launch came a day after the North fired about 25 missiles and more than 100 multiple rocket launchers, the biggest-ever barrage in a single day. More seriously, one short-range ballistic missile flew southward past the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the East Sea, the de facto maritime inter-Korean border, for the first time since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The air-raid siren went off on Ulleung Island, frightening residents. Such a missile launch is a violation of the bilateral military agreement signed in Sept. 19, 2018.

We express grave concerns about the North's continued provocations. The North has fired ballistic missiles 27 times and cruise missiles three times so far this year. It has made missile provocations 16 times since President Yoon Suk-yeol took office May 10. Pyongyang has been recklessly trying to drag the peninsula into a military confrontation.

North Korea cited this week's combined air drills of South Korea and the United States as the reason for its saber-rattling. It is wrong for Pyongyang to make accusations against Seoul and Washington's joint military exercises, which are purely defensive in nature, as a "preparation for invasion." It is hard to figure out what is the real motive for their incessant provocations. Yet the Kim Jong-un regime is trying to raise tensions on the peninsula and in East Asia in order to put more pressure on South Korea and the U.S. Its continued test-firing of various missiles and artillery are seen as a prelude to the North's seventh nuclear test.

Military officials and experts believe that the North has already completed its preparation for another nuclear test which stands a high chance of taking place before the U.S. midterm elections scheduled for Nov. 8. The North recently conducted drills to test ballistic missiles that can carry tactical nuclear warheads. The North is apparently focused on acquiring technology needed to miniaturize nuclear warheads through the test.

The Kim regime has become emboldened to complete its nuclear weapons and missile development program amid the escalating Sino-U.S great power rivalry, Russia's prolonged war in Ukraine, and the emerging new Cold War. Pyongyang may believe that the United Nations cannot impose more sanctions on the North for additional ICBM launches and a new nuclear test. But it should realize that such reckless provocations will only deepen its isolation and worsen its economic woes.

Seoul and Washington should step up their security cooperation to thwart any further military threats from Pyongyang. It is imperative to strengthen the U.S.' extended deterrence to protect the South from any nuclear threats from the North. Kim should take more seriously the U.S.' warning that his regime would collapse if it uses nuclear weapons. We urge Pyongyang to stop its provocations and return to dialogue.

Send Feedback
How can we improve?
Thanks for your feedback!