North testing U.S. patience, againPyongyang continues to try Washington’s patience.
After flaunting a new facility to enrich uranium - possibly for nuclear bombs - the communist regime reportedly has completed construction of a second long-range missile launchpad.
The new launch site at Tongchang-ri, just 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the Yongbyon nuclear reactor complex, is reportedly five times bigger than the first missile base at Musudan-ri in North Hamkyung Province.
Its rocket launchpad also is 1.5 times larger.
The new launch facility that took nearly a decade to finish could eventually send intercontinental ballistic missiles as far as the mainland of the United States.
North Korea has been bolstering its middle- and long-range missile programs since testing its first Taepodong-1 missile in 1998.
It then tested a Taepodong-2, which is capable of reaching Alaska and the southern coastlines of the United States, in both 2006 and 2009. It also has tested nuclear weapons.
James Clapper, director of national intelligence, told the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee last week that the Taepodong-2 missile failed in the 2009 test but that the country’s technology had improved since the initial test in 2006.
Last month, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates also said that North Korea’s long-range ballistic missiles could pose a direct threat to the American mainland within five years rather than the earlier estimate of 10 years.
In other words, North Korea has made quick progress in building a launching facility as well as the missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads across the Pacific Ocean.
The latest saber-rattling moves may again represent an effort to win Washington’s support for bilateral talks.
But it probably won’t work. The U.S. instead could maintain its strategic patience publicly while reinforcing its missile defense system. Or, it could even resort to military action to wipe out the North’s nuclear and bombing facilities if it must.
North Korea’s bold provocation of pointing nuclear and missile weapons at the United States can boomerang and lead to its doom.
It should come to its senses, stop its military campaign and care for its starving people instead. We strongly urge the North to give up its nuclear weapons program and start a sincere dialogue. It’s the only way North Korea can save its regime and its people.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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