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INTERNATIONAL > East Asia & Pacific

Editorial: N. Korea risks further isolation with its latest missile launches

  • May 11, 2019
  • , The Asahi Shimbun , 1:05 p.m.
  • English Press

North Korea’s provocative decision to resume missile tests could destroy all hopes of positive changes in the secluded country in light of a spate of diplomatic initiatives it has taken over the past year or so.


If it continues resorting to the worn-out tactic of military provocations, Pyongyang will only find itself sinking further into punishing international isolation.


The U.S. Defense Department said North Korea fired a salvo of short-range ballistic missiles on May 9, citing the results of its analysis of various data.


That would be a clear violation of a U.S. Security Council resolution. It may also have launched ballistic missiles on May 4. Japan, the United States, South Korea and other members of the international community should issue a clear warning to North Korea.


Pyongyang had refrained from ballistic missile tests for 18 months. Its latest actions appear to reflect its anger and frustration over U.S. refusal to ease economic sanctions against the regime following failed summit talks in Hanoi in February between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.


The missile tests were apparently designed to demonstrate the country’s military might without threatening the United States directly.


It would appear that the Kim regime is trying to force Washington into budging on its tough demand for a once-and-for-all deal under which Pyongyang has to abandon its nuclear program for an end to the sanctions.


Despite a flurry of diplomatic activity to expand dialogue with neighboring countries, North Korea appears to remain stuck in self-righteous thinking.


Taking provocative actions to push the negotiations forward is a wrong-headed maneuver that will only create more obstacles to achieving its goal of getting the sanctions relaxed and rebuild the nation’s dilapidated economy.


This time, Trump, who has stressed his friendly relationship with Kim, expressed his displeasure at Pyongyang’s missile launches.


The unprecedentedly good relationship between the leaders of the two countries offered a rare opportunity for Pyongyang to wiggle out of international isolation. But the North is now committing the folly of blowing this golden opportunity.


A U.N. body has called for food aid to North Korea, warning that the country is facing its worst food crisis in 10 years. The Kim regime should understand that the only way for the country to escape from this predicament is by abandoning its nuclear ambitions, as demanded by the international community.


The responses to North Korea’s missile tests from the governments of Japan, the United States and South Korea have been baffling. They appear to have tried to downplay the seriousness of Pyongyang’s actions since the first apparent missile salvo on May 4.


Experts in South Korea pointed out that the tests constitute a violation of the military aspects of agreements reached last year by Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. But Moon has only made a vague, oddly tempered response to the provocation, only saying it is “not consistent with the objectives” of the agreements.


The core principle of the strategy for dealing with North Korea’s arms programs that has been upheld by Tokyo, Washington and Seoul should be a complete enforcement of the sanctions on the country based on U.N. Security Council resolutions.


Failing to make a strong and clear response to North Korea’s ballistic missile tests could undermine the foundation for maintaining the sanctions.


Obviously, the countries need to continue focusing on dialogue in their pursuit of a solution to the security challenge.


Even so, they should stand firm against any outrageous action by Pyongyang as a matter of principle.


In Japan, the United States and South Korea, political leaders appear to be engaged in politically motivated discourses over issues concerning North Korea.


Given the crucial goal of seeking peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula, they must never adopt a short-sighted, politically driven approach.


–The Asahi Shimbun, May 11

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