[EDITORIALS]Missile test and aftermath

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[EDITORIALS]Missile test and aftermath

Pyongyang’s test launch of the Taepodong-2 missiles seems imminent, according to news reports from Washington. Reuters and AFP said the test launch might take place as early as next week, quoting U.S. officials. The South Korean government expressed deep concern over this matter.
The worst case scenarios, including explosive side effects after a missile launch, are spreading among the people.
This is a very serious matter, if it is true that Pyongyang is preparing test launches of Taepodong-2 missiles, which are at the same level as intercontinental ballistic missiles. Taepodong-2 is an advanced version of Taepodong-1, which was launched over Japan in 1998.
Pyongyang declared its possession of nuclear weapons in February of last year.
If it takes one step further and carries out test launches of a long-range missile that could reach the United States, it would confirm it had obtained a vehicle to deliver nuclear arms. That will certainly be seen as direct threat to U.S. security.
It is easy to forecast how the international community, including the United States, would respond.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula would increase dramatically, and then military and economic pressure on Pyongyang would gather more speed. Inter-Korean cooperation projects would have to be stopped. Is Pyongyang prepared to face such consequences?
While knowing that it would turn the situation upside down, North Korea is toying with the idea of test launches. One of the reasons is clearly the stalled six-party talks.
Having a direct dialogue with Teheran, Washington tolerates Iran’s uranium enrichment program and even offered an expensive incentive like a light-water reactor. Meanwhile, Washington keeps pressing Pyongyang, talking about its counterfeit currency and human rights abuses.
Washington’s differing approaches to the two countries were one of the reasons that Pyongyang is considering an extreme decision. Nuclear development programs in Iran and North Korea are the biggest problems for the international community. Washington should solve these two problems with blanket measures.
The United States should try a “big deal” with Pyongyang by having direct dialogue with that regime for the bigger purpose of solving all the problems. Pyongyang should also not make the mistake of pushing the button for a launch.
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