[EDITORIALS]The North and the bomb

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[EDITORIALS]The North and the bomb

In regard to North Korea’s possible nuclear test, South Korea’s Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok said yesterday at the National Assembly that a test is possible. Although he made it clear that no concrete information has been gathered, this is a serious remark, considering the ever-intensifying tension on the Korean Peninsula.
North Korea has recently resorted to brinkmanship, such as declaring it possessed nuclear bombs and launching missiles in order to open direct negotiations with the United States. But Washington ignored such moves. The only card left for Pyongyang is a nuclear test. It is hard to guess whether the North, conscious about its ties with China, would actually do so. But China has become cold toward North Korea, as seen in its vote for a United Nations censure resolution.
The United States is pressing North Korea as well, spreading financial sanctions against North Korea worldwide. These moves are leading the increasingly isolated regime to miscalculate that nuclear tests are the only way to get out of the crisis.
In this regard, U.S. President Bush’s recent remark is significant. He said he has consulted with China’s President Hu Xintao about warning North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-il against his plans for nuclear development.
About the time he made that remark, American and British media reported that equipment for nuclear tests had been observed heading for a possible test site. The probability of a North Korean nuclear test is becoming higher than ever.
The impact that a test will have on us is beyond our imagination. The balance of military capabilities between the South and the North will break down immediately. There is no way to keep the balance with our conventional weapons. South Korea will become a hostage of North Korea. South Korea will descend into chaos.
But the South Korean government still makes leisurely remarks such as, “We will cooperate with the United States and China,” and, “It is too early to send a warning to Pyongyang.”
The administration should understand the gravity of this issue. Once North Korea completes a test, it becomes a nuclear state. So how can we defend ourselves against nuclear bombs? The government should not react in a lukewarm way, like it did over the North’s missile launches in July.
Seoul should warn North Korea that its nuclear tests will lead to collapse of the communist regime.
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