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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Nov. 4)

All News 06:53 November 04, 2022

Readying ourselves for the missiles

Following its first firing of a ballistic missile Wednesday to the south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), North Korea on Thursday fired off an ICBM, presumed to be a Hwasong-17, to the East Sea. Analysis by our military authorities shows the missile succeeded in separating the first- and second-stage propellants but its warhead failed to reach a target after its propulsion power weakened. But it is too early to be relieved. Given the past trajectory of the country, it will surely test fire the missile again to complete its ICBM technology.

Since setting the strategic goal of getting international recognition as a nuclear weapons state, North Korea continues the tests of ICBMs and SLBMs. Amid the deepening U.S.-China contest and the Ukraine war, China or Russia would not put the brakes on North Korea's missile provocation. Pyongyang is solidifying its relations with Russia by providing attack weapons to Russia struggling in its war with Ukraine. To prevent any misjudgment by North Korea, the most effective way is ensuring U.S. nuclear deterrence and strengthening security cooperation with America and Japan.

At the same time, we must raise our sense of security and preparedness on our own. No matter how strong a deterrence Uncle Sam offers, we cannot rely on the ally entirely. The North's ICBM capability is being questioned, but its nuclear attack ability has nearly reached the level of completion, as seen in its successful firing of a ballistic missile to the south of the NLL on the East Sea. Our government must thoroughly brace for the possibility of the recalcitrant state waging a limited war against the South.

We must not brush off the North's provocations merely as a tactics to vent out its discontent or show off its belligerency. Our government must find out what strategic goals North Korea has and what tactics it uses for the moment. Worrisome is South Korea's lax security sense built after their presidents held summits with North Korean leaders for dialogue. We can hardly deny that we have a noticeably loosened security sense even though the past summits failed to draw any fundamental changes from the North.

Look at the way residents on Ulleung Island behaved after an air-raid siren went off when the ballistic missile fell into international waters near the Sokcho city Wednesday. They were confused over how to respond to attacks from North Korea. People in other regions would have shown the same reaction. If such attacks had caught the country off guard, it would have resulted in massive casualties and damage. The government must double-check its civil defense emergency management plan and let citizens be fully aware of the guidelines before it is too late.
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