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Security insensitivity in S.K. more serious threat than N.K.’s missile launches

Security insensitivity in S.K. more serious threat than N.K.’s missile launches

Posted July. 14, 2014 05:27,   


North Korea fired toward the East Sea two shots of short-range ballistic missiles that are believed to belong to the Scud missile group at a location north of Kaesong at around 1:20 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. Sunday. The South Korean military estimated the max range of the missile at about 500 kilometers. The site of launch was only about 20 kilometers from the military demarcation line. It is quite unusual that the North fired missiles at a location near the military demarcation line. The move is more likely an action taken by the North as show of protest against the anchoring in Busan on last Friday of the U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier USS George Washington to participate in the South Korea-U.S. joint military drill.

Since February 21 this year, the North has launched a total of 97 mid to short-range projectiles, including the Scud and Rodong missiles and newly developed 300-mm howitzer. They include 12 shots of ballistic missiles fired on six occasions. The South Korean military estimates the North has spent at least 1 trillion won (980 million U.S. dollars) for the launches. The North is expected to earn 91 million dollars in wages from the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Park this year. Hence, the North has wasted on escalating tension between the two Koreas an amount of money that it can earn by running at least 10 Kaesong complexes, which is the symbol of inter-Korean exchange and cooperation. Under this circumstance, the South can hardly afford to trust the sincerity of the North’s demands for peace, including repeated suggestions to improve inter-Korean ties, and the dispatch of an athletic team and cheering squad to the 2014 Incheon Asian Games in September.

Judging that the North has violated the U.N. Security Council resolutions 1718, 1874, 2087, and 2094 through its successive launches of ballistic missiles, the South Korean government will file complaints to the U.N. after consultation with the U.S. However, U.N.’s condemnations of the North’s nuclear tests and missile launches, and sanctions against Pyongyang have not generated practical outcome thus far. Some U.S. experts on the Korean Peninsula say, “It is impossible for South Korea, the U.S. and China to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons development.” If the international community’s "disapproval of the North’s nuclear weapons" only ends up being diplomatic rhetoric, the North will never feel pressure.

It is useless for the international community to demand the North to spend the money that it is wasting on nuclear weapons and missile development on feeding its staving population. Pyongyang will never give up these efforts until the regime collapses. The South has no choice but to decide whether it will seek unstable peace with the North possessing nuclear weapons, or decisively deter Pyongyang with strong determination. More than anything, the South should first strengthen preparedness of its military, which has allowed the North’s penetrations and provocations repeatedly but changed little to improve practice nonetheless. The South might face grave consequences if it becomes insensitive to the North’s moves by recklessly believing that "the North always does that" in the wake of Pyongyang’s successive missile provocations.