[EDITORIALS]The only way to peace

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[EDITORIALS]The only way to peace

The Defense Ministry’s white paper has described North Korea’s military as a “serious threat.” That is a more worrying evaluation than the one it issued two years ago when the North’s threat was dubbed a “direct military threat.”
That is in contrast with the president’s stance. President Roh Moo-hyun has intentionally underrated the threat posed by North Korea.
The president has said repeatedly that the military balance on the Korean Peninsula has not been upset and that North Korea’s test of its missiles and nuclear device were not aimed at us.
It is fortunate that the military authorities have a sense of crisis about our security situation, even if the president does not. But the question of whether we are prepared for the threat posed by the North’s military remains unanswered.
In truth, we cannot be protected other than with some form of nuclear deterrence, given that North Korea reportedly possess sufficient plutonium to make 6 or 7 nuclear weapons and has completed a nuclear test.
But it is not feasible for South Korea to build its own nuclear deterrence under the current circumstances of international politics.
Going nuclear would probably harm our prosperity rather than enhance it, and we must remember that the purpose of security measures is the peaceful and prosperous survival of our country.
Thus, our most realistic nuclear deterrent is to rely upon a U.S. nuclear umbrella and a strong alliance with Washington. But the president’s cry for an independent national defense has severely damaged the Korea-U.S. alliance.
North Korea is not the only country that poses a threat to us. China, whose economy has become a dominant force, is enhancing its navy in a bid to become a military super power as well.
China’s attempts to become a military super power are likely to be a burden on us in the long run. A realistic and appropriate response to this is, again, to intensify the Korea-U.S. alliance.
Of course, it is important to improve friendly relations with neighboring countries during peacetime, in order to lower the possibilities of a clash.
But the basic principle of security is to be prepared for an emergency. As a country surrounded by powerful countries, the only realistic route that we can take is to build a firm military alliance with the United States.
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