The North plays its aceNorth Korea responded strongly to the joint military exercises by South Korea and the United States that started on March 2. The mission of the Korean People’s Army in the Panmunjum truce village said that if belligerent forces in the United States and South Korea attempt to realize their wish to oppress the North by military means, the North would respond with a pre-emptive attack using everything its expensive and long-lasting arsenal has to offer. It also said that “the tests” proved that the North should suffer in other respects while it beefed up its military. The North Korean agency used euphemisms, but it clearly alluded to nuclear weapons.
The military drill, called Key Resolve/Foul Eagle, is for defense purposes in case of an emergency. All countries that have armies do this type of training. North Korea’s army does all kinds of military exercises, such as winter and summer training. On Feb. 1, the number of North Korean sallies was the highest in 13 years. But North Korea makes groundless accusations year after year because it has attempted to increase conflict among South Koreans.
What is unusual is that North Korea has repeated its nuclear threats. In January 2007, North Korea said that if the Grand National Party took power, all Koreans would face nuclear war. North Korea’s attitude undoubtedly showed that its explanations for why it developed nuclear weapons were not true. North Korea developed nuclear weapons not only because Washington was hostile toward it but also because North Korea wanted to threaten the South. A Chinese professor and expert on the Korean Peninsula, Chang Lien-kui, warned earlier that North Korea would interfere in South Korea’s politics using its nuclear weapons.
North Korea delayed its nuclear declaration by more than two months despite its promise to do so before the end of last year. North Korea has no intention of abolishing its nuclear weapons. Looking at similar cases from the past, the United States’ stance might change. The United States might ease its demands for North Korea’s nuclear declaration. Thus, North Korea’s nuclear issue will likely become a challenge to national security for the new South Korean government. To overcome this challenge, South Korea and the United States must not have even the slightest disagreement that a nuclear North Korea cannot be accepted.
We will have dialogue with North Korea but we must clarify that North Korea will have to pay the price for its nuclear threats.