The Blue House fumblesUnfazed by many rounds of international sanctions and warnings, North Korea again tested a long-range ballistic missile that flew over Japan for the second time in less than three weeks. The intermediate-range ballistic missile, believed to be the same Hwasong 12 that was tested on Aug. 29, was fired off from the Sunan International Airport north of Pyongyang early Friday. It flew to a peak altitude of 770 kilometers (478 miles) over Japan and as far as 3,700 kilometers before landing 2,000 kilometers east of Japan’s northern Hokkaido. It is the longest-range missile fired by North Korea. Given that the distance between Pyongyang and a U.S. air base in Guam is about 3,400 kilometers, North Korea was obviously showing off its capability of striking the U.S. territory as it had previously warned.
North Korea basically laughed at the toughest-ever sanctions passed by the UN Security Council earlier this week. The party-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun warned that Pyongyang would ratchet up action if the U.S. continues on “this way” after the UN Security Council unanimously passed the watered down U.S.-drafted resolution.
North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests underscore that sanctions have not worked. Bloomberg News reported that North Korea’s economy grew by 3.9 percent, the fastest pace in 17 years, last year — even more proof that international sanctions have been in vain.
The latest resolution 2375 was significantly scaled down to cap instead of fully ban oil supplies to North Korea due to opposition from China and Russia. The Chinese foreign ministry issued a statement criticizing Pyongyang for violating UN resolutions with another missile test. It reiterated that it would “comprehensively and strictly” implement the resolution.
Seoul also issued a statement “strongly condemning” the missile test after a National Security Council meeting. But the government on Thursday announced that it might contribute $8 million in international humanitarian aid to the North. Even after the missile launch, it reiterated that it would separate humanitarian aid to North Korea from military provocations. That stance raised eyebrows at home and abroad. It does not make sense for Seoul to offer aid while other governments are endeavoring to cut off Pyongyang to stop its weapons development and provocations. Tokyo criticized Seoul for undermining international pressure. Washington did not hide its displeasure. The government must get its position straight on North Korea if it does not want to see unease spread across our society.
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 16, Page 30