Our national dignity

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Our national dignity

North Korea has fired once again two short-range ballistic missiles from Wonsan on its east coast. Reneging on a vow to rekindle denuclearization talks with the United States in a hurriedly arranged meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Panmunjom last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s provocation comes 70 days after its launch of similar missiles in May. One of Thursday’s two missiles flew 430 kilometers (267 miles) and the other as far as 690 kilometers. The two missiles are presumed to be an upgraded version of Russia’s Iskander ballistic missile. Thanks to their lower flying altitude, they can hardly be detected by radar and are difficult to intercept with our Patriot missiles.

North Korea’s move is apparently aimed at pressuring the United States to come up with a satisfactory denuclearization plan. But the missile tests cannot be seen in the context of nuclear talks alone as they represent a deepening of North Korea’s missile capabilities. In May, one of the two North Korean missiles could not fly as far as expected. This time, North Korea seems to have conducted successful launches.

North Korea also caused alarm earlier in the week. It showed off a new submarine capable of firing several ballistic missiles tipped with nuclear warheads. One can hardly defend against submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) due to their stealthy maneuverability.

In the face of growing nuclear and missile threats from North Korea, South Korea is keeping mum except requesting — belatedly — Pyongyang refrain from such provocations. Our Ministry of National Defense has yet to announce the results of its analysis of the two missiles North Korea launched two months ago. What is the ministry trying to hide?

The way the government is dealing with Russian military aircraft violation of our air defense identification zone (Kadiz) also confounds us. The pilot of our fighter jet did the right thing — firing multiple rounds at the Russian reconnaissance plane infiltrating the Kadiz over the Dokdo islets — and yet the Moon Jae-in administration does not protest to Russia. The Blue House did not hold a National Security Council meeting. It hasn’t criticized China for conducting a joint reconnaissance flight drill with Russia over the East Sea. The Moon administration must defend our national dignity before it is too late.
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