[EDITORIALS]North takes risky ploy aloftIn the history of war, there are many examples of conflict triggered by mistakes in an area of high military tension. Such a disaster can take place at any time on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea engaged in a risky encounter Sunday amid the escalating tensions linked to Pyeongyang’s nuclear brinkmanship.
North Korea’s MiG fighter jets intercepted a U.S. RC-135 spy plane in international airspace above the East Sea (Sea of Japan). The reconnaissance craft was on a routine surveillance mission, and the North Korean fighters approached the plane within 15 meters (50 feet). One of the North Korean aircraft reportedly engaged its fire-support radar and locked on to the American craft. Fortunately, no further action was taken by the two sides.
Yet, it is still shocking that the North Korean craft came so dangerously close to the U.S. plane. Even if the North Koreans were only making a close check of the aircraft, 15 meters was much too short a distance for the high speed. We do not even want to think about the aftermath if a collision had occurred.
North Korea seemed to have staged the provocation after careful calculation. A North Korean fighter jet crossed the inter-Korean border and Pyeongyang test-fired a missile to coincide with Roh Moo-hyun’s inauguration. Seoul must study thoroughly the reason the North is engaging in such behavior during the early days of President Roh’s government.
Why is North Korea creating a crisis? Pyeongyang must have been showing its intent to never submit to Washington. Another interpretation is that the North is probably trying to break up the South Korea -U.S. alliance by inducing Washington to strengthen its hard-line policy and spur anti-American sentiments here. Seoul seems to think the North’s strategy is to pressure Washington for direct bilateral talks.
For the sake of our national security, we must maintain a solid alliance and cooperation with the United States to eliminate any possibility of a miscalculation by the North.