[EDITORIALS]Seoul waffles on test No. 2

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[EDITORIALS]Seoul waffles on test No. 2

North Korea appears to be ready for a second nuclear weapons test. An informal reaction by the South Korean government is less than clear. It says that the possibility cannot be ruled out, but the test is probably not “impending.” This seems to be a response to criticisms of the uncoordinated information and baffled reactions of the administration to the first test. But the response is not enough to quell worries about our policy on North Korea.
The nuclear test by North Korea has met with criticism in other countries, including the United Nations Security Council’s resolution to sanction Pyongyang. But because of differences of opinion on the workings of the sanctions ― with China and Russia on one side and Japan and the United Statess on the other ― the international sanctions are more apparent than real.
The South Korean government has produced lukewarm and unprincipled responses to the nuclear weapons tests. The president and his top officials insisted that the security balance between South Korea and North Korea had not been affected despite the test. What is more, they continuously hinted at the possibility that considerable economic support for North Korea was to be forthcoming.
Even though South Korea went to war with North Korea and has not yet laid to rest the intense military tensions of more than half a century, its puzzling reaction has, no doubt, influenced for the worse the international reaction to North Korea’s nuclear test.
The administration response, which was not backed by any sort of principle, caused consternation and conflicts within the nation as well. Under such circumstances, North Korea’s attempt at a second nuclear weapons test seems to be more than just a natural course of action. Celebrating the first nuclear test with mass demonstrations and in its media, North Korean authorities spewed out nationwide propaganda which aimeds at justifying its possession of nuclear weapons.
Nonetheless, the international response to the nuclear test is yet uncoordinated, while South Korea discusses substantial economic support for North Korea instead of doing something resolute.
Foreign Minister Song Min-soon said at first he had heard nothing of such reports. By contrast, the U.S. secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, warned North Korea that another nuclear test would intensify its isolation. Japan’s Prime Minister Abe vowed to respond adamantly as well. It is not an exaggeration to say that such differences result from whether governments have a decided policy about the North Korean nuclear problem.
We are concerned that the government’s policies on North Korea have not yet been laid out clearly. The problems will be aggravated if the situation continues this way.
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