North Korea has just accelerated its unbridled military provocations. There is a pressing need for the international community to unite in imposing additional sanctions on the country.
The North has launched Pukguksong-2, a new type of intermediate-range missile whose name translates to North Star or Polaris. After flying about 500 kilometers, the missile fell into the Sea of Japan. The latest ballistic missile launch — the 11th of its kind to be conducted this year — took place just one week after the preceding one, indicating the rapid pace at which the North is test-firing such missiles.
It is difficult to detect signs of a solid-fuel Pukguksong-2 launch. North Korea’s latest missile test can be viewed as an attempt to show off an improvement in its surprise attack capability.
Regarding Pukguksong-2, Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, is said to have ordered deployment of the missile for combat readiness, saying, “This type of missile should be rapidly mass-produced … and deployed to military units.” He also said his country would rival the United States in the “diversification and sophistication of its nuclear capability.”
North Korea has the habit of exaggerating its military strength. There are still doubts as to the country’s assertion that its new type of missile has reached a stage of practical use, given the repeated failed launches of that missile.
However, there is no denying that the North has advanced its missile technology, and efforts to exercise caution cannot be neglected.
The U.S. military is placing a check on North Korea, using the USS Carl Vinson and Ronald Reagan aircraft carriers, with the USS Ronald Reagan’s home port in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture. The Kim regime probably wants to emphasize its resolve not to succumb to such military pressure.
China, Russia must join inPrime Minister Shinzo Abe bitterly condemned the latest missile launch, describing it as an attempt to “trample on efforts by the international community to pursue a peaceful solution and to present a challenge to the world.” He had every reason to single out the North.
At the request of Japan, the United States and South Korea, the U.N. Security Council will likely convene an emergency meeting on Tuesday. Efforts must be made to work out a new sanctions resolution at an early date, thereby increasing joint efforts to place the North under seige.
The Security Council has repeatedly issued a statement aimed at condemning North Korea. Although such nations as Japan and the United States have asserted that additional sanctions should be imposed on the North, China and Russia have remained cautious about this. Therefore, the imposition of even stronger sanctions has not become a reality, which consequently has allowed North Korea to carry out provocations.
Japan and the United States have called for taking measures that are more effective than the existing resolutions and have greater influence on North Korea. Such measures include slapping sanctions on Chinese and other banks and companies that conduct transactions with the North, as well as imposing export restrictions on crude oil.
Although China announced a halt in coal imports from North Korea in February, this is hardly enough. As long as China and Russia cannot get the North to restrict its act of violating U.N. resolutions, they should agree to bolster sanctions on the North.
Abe has said he will seek to have North Korea discussed as one of the main issues at this year’s Group of Seven summit meeting of major nations, which will open on Friday in Taormina, Italy, and convey a strong message there.
It is important for Japan and the United States to take the initiative in building a structure by which the international community will press North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile development programs.