Standing up to provocation

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Standing up to provocation

The international community has speedily embarked on coordinated, punitive steps against North Korea after it flouted international warnings and conducted another nuclear test. The United Nations Security Council, in a meeting held shortly after the surprise nuclear test on Monday, condemned the action, characterizing it as clear defiance of an earlier warning and vowing to map out a new resolution imposing stronger sanctions on the recalcitrant communist regime.

Soon after he heard the news, President Barack Obama declared the United States and its allies would “stand up” to North Korea and he held a press conference at the White House early Monday morning, local time.

The latest North Korean provocation has drawn a harsh rebuke even from countries relatively sympathetic towards the Pyongyang regime. China on Monday said it was “resolutely opposed” to the nuclear test. Russia and Vietnam also joined the chorus of criticism.

The South Korean government announced Tuesday it will become a full participant in the Proliferation Security Initiative. Seoul has been wavering in its decision to join the U.S.-led campaign to stop global trafficking in weapons of mass destruction for fear of provoking the North, which continues to detain a South Korean worker and is threatening to overthrow the inter-Korean business partnership in the Kaesong Industrial Complex - but the nuclear test has forced Seoul’s hand.

North Korea has gone beyond the international community’s tolerance and patience. Its provocative actions are threatening peace and the global order, and it’s high time the international community taught the North a lesson.

In a telephone call with Obama, President Lee Myung-bak emphasized that the U.S. and its allies should not give in to the North’s brinkmanship and repeat the pattern of rewarding belligerent Pyongyang with dialogue and economic aid, as has been done in the past. Obama agreed to work for stronger international pressure through a UN Security Council resolution.

We welcome the two leaders’ coordinated and resolute response, and we urge the government to put forth its best diplomatic efforts in organizing international cooperation to send a consistent and resolute message to North Korea.

Much of the work of persuading the North will fall to China to exert its influence over its long-time communist partner.

Still, we expect the North to heighten its bellicosity, employing all possible means to push back against the international consensus against it.

Obama assured his South Korean counterpart that the U.S. military and its nuclear power would provide protection against any potential provocations from the North.

We need to reconfirm our security capabilities through next month’s South Korea-U.S. summit and other diplomatic channels with our allies. Our military forces should be on full alert to act promptly against any provocation from North Korea.
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