New crisis, calm responseNorth Korea has conducted its second nuclear test, an act that has drastically changed the security environment on and around the Korean Peninsula. In the past, the international community has not officially admitted North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons. Now, like it or not, it has to regard the communist country as a nuclear state.
The countries of Northeast Asia have long expressed the hope that North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons and programs. Other countries in other regions of the world share this view.
But until the North gives up its nuclear programs and weapons, the international community will continue to intensify its response and aid to North Korea will no longer be offered. That will only serve to increase the hardships faced by North Korean citizens, increasing resentment against their leaders. The nuclear test has also ruined North Korea’s plans to become a so-called “strong and prosperous state” by 2012.
We are in serious trouble. The fact that North Korea has become a nuclear state poses a powerful threat to our national security. We need to reexamine and reorganize our security measures immediately. Although our conventional weapons are much stronger than North Korea’s, they are useless before a nuclear weapon. Because of conditions that do not allow us to possess nuclear weapons immediately, we have no choice but to entirely depend on the U.S. nuclear deterrent.
We must further enhance the South Korea-U.S. alliance. At the South Korea-U.S. summit scheduled for next month, we should request that President Barack Obama reconfirm an agreement to offer the U.S. nuclear deterrent to South Korea.
The Kaesong Industrial Complex could now become a place where hostages are held to threaten South Korea, rather than a frontier for our companies and workers to lay the groundwork for the future of inter-Korean relations. Even though the Kaesong complex does not need to close immediately, we must be prepared to deal with the worst. Since North Korea has gone ahead with its second nuclear test, the chance that it will give up its nuclear weapons and programs has grown ever more distant.
Still, it’s the goal we can never give up.
It will be impossible to achieve lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, not to mention reunification, if North Korea does not abandon its nuclear weapons and programs. We need to do everything we can to make this a reality.
North Korea’s second nuclear test has changed the world. But we must not panic or get overwhelmed. The government and the people must work together to respond to this new crisis in a calm and rational way.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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