Go to contents

THE DONG-A ILBO Logo

Only forced denuclearization awaits Kim Jong Un

Posted November. 30, 2017 08:23,   

Updated November. 30, 2017 09:22

한국어

North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) into the East Sea early Wednesday morning. Launched at a high angle, it peaked at an altitude of 4,500 kilometers. Had it been fired at a normal angle, the missile range would have been 13,000 kilometers, enough to target U.S. capital Washington D.C. The North’s latest provocation came 75 days after the regime test fired medium long-range missile on Sept. 15. The Kim Jung Un regime, who had been silent for two and a half months, has declared the confrontation with the United States as well as the international community, which makes the situation on the Korean Peninsula complicated and grave.

In a special announcement broadcast on North Korea’s state media, North Korea said it had successfully launched a new type of ICBM, called the Hwasong-15 missile, capable of striking the whole mainland of the United States and quoted its leader Kim Jong Un as saying, “Now we have finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force, the cause of building a rocket power.” To be sure, the North’s claims should be taken with a grain of salt. To complete an ICBM technology, there are a number of technical requirements such as atmospheric reentry. Some even raise the possibility that the North may have fired a light fake warhead. At least in terms of the range, however, its missiles now pose a threat to the whole U.S. mainland. It is yet another provocation to test the patience of U.S. President Donald Trump who warned the rogue state not to “test America.”

In response to the North’s latest missile test, Washington appears to remain calm. President Trump said, “We will take care of it… it is a situation that we will handle.” Asked if there would be any change in the approach to North Korea, he said “no change,” implying the continued maximum pressure campaign. “Diplomatic options remain viable and open, for now,” added U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Military options are not being discussed at the moment, but Washington has been pondering upon a wide range of military options.

The Trump administration has, in particular, reviewed military options against North Korea that do not put Seoul at great risk. The North’s provocation is fueling the argument for attacking the regime. That is, the United States should strike a precision attack on the North Korean launching site as it did on the Syrian military base, using chemical weapons. Such an option is not seen as viable yet due to potential massive retaliations by North Korea, but the argument can be brought up at any time after the completion of the technical analysis of the North Korean nuclear capabilities.

It is also noteworthy that South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed concerns and publicly hinted at a possible pre-emptive strike by the United States at an emergency National Security Council meeting. “We must stop a situation where North Korea miscalculates and threatens us with nuclear weapons or where the United States considers a pre-emptive strike,” Moon said. His remarks made this writer wonder if they will do good to our alliance’s countermeasures against North Korea. However, if his remarks mean the South Korean president’s prediction of the situation on the Korean Peninsula reaching a crisis, they should be taken more seriously.

In a telephone conversation held Wednesday hours after Pyongyang fired an ICBM, Presidents Moon and Trump agreed to “hold additional discussions on detailed countermeasures in the near future. Washington’s response will be either to maintain maximum pressure and sanctions against the North or to implement military options including preemptive strike. All of which will lead to the North Korean regime’s collapse. Kim Jong Un must realize that he is going down the path of suicide without giving up his nuclear and missile development ambitions.

The international community has agreed the strongest sanctions ever on North Korea, and China is joining the concerted efforts. If North Korea continues its provocations or launches its 7th nuclear test, it will only put the clocks for military options forward. Next week, a massive South Korean and U.S. joint air force drill involving some 230 advanced aircraft will be carried out. It will be more aggressive and bold military muscle-flexing. Only forced denuclearization awaits the regime that fails to abandon nuclear missile ambitions.