Still deluded on the North

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Still deluded on the North

 North Korea fired a projectile assumed to be a short-range missile into the East Sea on Tuesday morning. That is its third missile provocation in September. Twenty minutes after the launch, North Korea’s ambassador appeared at the UN General Assembly and demanded a permanent suspension of South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises and deployment of U.S. strategic weapons around the Korean Peninsula. That’s the North’s reaction to President Moon Jae-in’s proposal earlier this month at the United Nations for a declaration to end the Korean War.

North Korea’s demand does not make sense. The joint drills are aimed at defending us against North Korea’s aggression and preventing misjudgments in times of crisis.

The North’s preposterous demand comes from its conviction that it can shake the security of the peninsula with its nuclear weapons. Earlier, Kim Yo-jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and vice director of the Workers’ Party, suggested that North Korea could accept a summit with President Moon Jae-in if “South Korea shows sincerity first.” The Moon administration must sternly respond to North Korea’s excessive demands after realizing that it continues ratcheting up its nuclear capabilities while mixing threats with peace offensives. The government must not allow Pyongyang to keep making such ridiculous proposals.

North Korea’s high-handed approach owes much to the liberal Moon administration’s careless attitude toward its provocations. Pyongyang seems to believe the Moon administration will embrace it no matter what. Such an arrogant stance can be attributed to President Moon himself. Before wrapping up a trip to the U.S. last week, Moon said North Korea had not yet closed the door to dialogue as it was only engaged in “low-key provocations.”

North Korea has been testing new weapons targeting South Korea since it declared a plan to develop tactical nuclear weapons in January. The new weapons — based on solid-propellant rockets, launchable on mobile pads, and with maneuverability to avoid detection by enemy radar — pose a substantial threat to our security. Nevertheless, the Moon administration adheres to its misguided belief that it’s not a big deal as long as North Korea does not test-fire an ICBM. We wonder about the source of the government’s confidence.

There was no mention of “denuclearization” in the North’s UN ambassador’s speech Tuesday or in other statements from Pyongyang recently. The time has come for the government to wake up from its pipe dream that North Korea will come to the negotiating table if only South Korea extends its hand.
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