[EDITORIALS]A shocking cargo

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[EDITORIALS]A shocking cargo

A North Korean vessel loaded with a dozen missiles was intercepted by the Spanish Navy on the high seas near Yemen. The incident is extremely shocking. In addition to Pyeongyang's admission of continuing its nuclear development program, it's now known that the North was exporting missiles to a possible Mideast buyer. This revelation has sent U.S.-North Korea relations to a new low. Since the incident took place after the United States vowed to stop international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, we are extremely concerned about future affairs on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea may argue that the cargo of missiles was a matter of sovereignty and a way to survive reinforced aid pressures by the United States, including the suspension of oil supplies after the North's nuclear development program was revealed. The United States began tracking the North Korean ship, the Sosan, after it departed North Korea in mid-November. Washington had warned of the interception indirectly, but North Korea, through an editorial in its official newspaper, Rodong Shinmun, called the warning a declaration of war against the North. Pyeongyang said it will retaliate.

That the North was exporting missiles will not escape criticism from the international community. Nearly all countries on this planet have vowed to stop terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. North Korea had hoped to remove its name from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism; Pyeongyang had wanted to sign a nonaggression treaty with Washington to resolve the current nuclear crisis. By using a disguised ship to cloak its intentions, Pyeongyang is now left with few choices.

Even if the North did this to restart negotiations with the United States, exporting missiles is a dangerous gamble in today's world. By concealing the ship's identity, the right to board it on the high seas was practiced, reinforcing the North's lawlessness. The United States must resolve this case peacefully so that Washington can continue to work for stabilization on the peninsula. Meanwhile, Seoul must issue a stern warning to Pyeongyang to give up developing and exporting weapons of mass destruction.

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