Cancel the missile testThe international community is pressuring North Korea to suspend its plan to test-fire the Kwangmyongsong-3, an intercontinental ballistic missile disguised as a satellite. South Korea, the United States, Japan, the EU, China and Russia have all expressed their worries about Pyongyang’s scheme to shoot the “satellite” into orbit via the Euha-3 rocket. North Korea must cancel the plan quickly to respond to the growing apprehension in the world.
As the backlash against its repeated attempts to test long-range missiles grows, Pyongyang has responded by claiming that the launching of the Kwangmyongsong-3 “pertains to our legitimate rights as a sovereign nation” based on the peaceful development and use of space. Pyongyang went so far as to argue that a “suppression of such a right is equivalent to a mean action negating our intrinsic rights to make peaceful use of space and infringing our sovereignty,” just as it said at the time of the launch of the Kwangmyongsong-1 and 2.
If it’s about the peaceful use of space, why would China - Pyongyang’s blood ally - instantly express its worry and raise the question of responsibility? Civilian rocket technologies are almost identical to those of military missiles. That’s why the international community regards the North’s allegedly peaceful rocket launch as a long-range missile test.
The test-firing represents a breach of the first agreement between Washington and Pyongyang since the launch of the Kim Jong-un regime. Should the test go forward, Pyongyang will have to give up the 240,000 metric tons of nutritional aid promised by Washington. North Korea experts are wondering why it opted to resume a missile test it had agreed to suspend in return for desperately needed food aid. The test-firing of the long-range missile could be aimed at achieving a political goal: solidifying its internal cohesion after Kim Jong-il’s death, as well as an external goal: putting pressure on Seoul and Washington before entering negotiations.
Whatever its real intention may be, the missile launch will inevitably bring more loss than gain to the Kim Jong-un regime. It will not only exacerbate mistrust in the junior Kim’s regime by implanting an image of belligerence in the minds of the international community, but also bring about a counterproductive result: spontaneous promotion of the uncertainties in the nascent regime squeezed in between moderates and hard-liners. We urge Pyongyang to swiftly cancel the suspicious missile launch plan and return to the negotiating table.