A dramatically different responseSouth Korea and the United States took joint military action Monday by firing eight ground-to-ground missiles to the East Sea in reaction to North Korea firing eight short-range ballistic missiles into the same sea the previous day. The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the missile launch demonstrated their “capability and posture to launch a precision strike on the very source of provocation at times of crisis.” The JCS urged North Korea to stop any acts aimed at ratcheting up tension on the Korean Peninsula.
North Korea has fired missiles 18 times so far this year, and it has fired eight missiles of various types. That sounds alarms as it is intended to show off missile capabilities instead of testing them. North Korea has finished preparations for its seventh nuclear test designed to develop tactical nuclear weapons. If the country is equipped with tactical weapons, it is not easy to defend against them. North Korea has nearly completed the development of ICBMs too.
In the face of such imminent danger, the Yoon Suk-yeol administration took a dramatically different approach to the North’s provocation from the dovish Moon Jae-in administration. In a speech on Memorial Day on June 6, President Yoon warned about the level of North Korean nuclear and missile threats to the peninsula and world peace, pledging to “build strong defense against them in a more fundamental and substantial way than before.” His statement reflects his determination to deter the nuclear and missile threat through the extended deterrence, as well as the three-axis system based on a Kill Chain pre-emptive strike system, the Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) plan.
The United States also prepared to thwart the North’s nuclear and missile offensive by sending four B1-B strategic bombers to Guam and dispatching more than 10 F-35B stealth fighter jets to Japan. The two allies also conducted large-scale maritime drills, including a U.S. aircraft carrier, on the waters southeast of Okinawa from June 2 to 4. The U.S. reportedly plans to deploy an aircraft carrier and strategic bombers to pressure North Korea if it dares to conduct its seventh nuke test.
If North Korea misuses its nuclear card, it could lead to its demise. The time has come for Pyongyang to take care of its impoverished people as a result of the international sanctions and the pandemic. In his inaugural speech last month, Yoon promised to “help North Korea improve the lives of its people if it gives up its nuclear ambition.” We urge Pyongyang to come to the negotiating table as soon as possible.