Blue House dreamersAfter North Korea conducted an apparent missile engine test on its west coast and the United States called for a United Nations Security Council meeting, tension is rapidly rising on the Korean Peninsula again. Following the engine test, North Korea could launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or a rocket disguised as a satellite launch before Christmas. Uncle Sam may put more pressure on the recalcitrant state or threaten military options — a repeat of the ratcheted up tensions of 2017, which could have led to war. If the North’s belligerent behavior continues, all the efforts to denuclearize the country will be futile. It appears they merely gave Pyongyang more time to develop nuclear armaments and ICBMs.
The engine test North Korea conducted on Saturday at a missile test site at Tongchang-ri, North Pyongan Province, carries great significance. On March 18, 2017, North Korea test-fired an ICBM, just four days after an engine test at the very same site. On Sunday, a day after the latest test, the Academy of National Defense Science of North Korea defined it as a “very important test,” which is expected to reinforce North Korea’s nuclear and ICBM capabilities significantly.
The United States seems to have sensed tangible signs of provocation as North Korea’s rhetoric has been getting harsher and harsher. It has warned, “The year-end deadline is approaching. What Christmas present we choose totally depends on the U.S.” and “If America uses a military option, we will swiftly react with a quid pro quo” and “We have nothing to lose anymore.” In reaction, the United States has been flying special reconnaissance aircraft over the Korean Peninsula one after another. In today’s UN Security Council meeting requested by U.S. President Donald Trump, members will discuss the possibility of North Korea making another missile provocation, as well as the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Depending on the results of the meeting, North Korea could turn even more pugnacious.
And yet, our government barely reacts. Even as public anxiety deepens with U.S. spy planes flying over the peninsula, the National Security Office in the Blue House did not explain what’s really going on — except Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo’s plea for an immediate halt to any actions that raise tensions in a defense ministerial meeting between South Korea and Australia on Tuesday. The government must wake up from its pipe dream about denuclearization. It must explain the situation to our anxious public and figure out how to proceed.
JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 11, Page 34