Internal unity is key

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Internal unity is key

North Korea continued crossing the line last week. Even on Saturday, when the long-range U.S. strategic bomber B-1B Lancer was deployed to the Korean Peninsula, the North fired four ballistic missiles into the Yellow Sea. Three days earlier, it fired 25 missiles in a single day. One of them fell in international waters 57 kilometers (35 miles) to the northeast of Sokcho on the east coast. That was its first provocation beyond the Northern Limit Line (NLL) on the East Sea.

That’s not all. On Thursday, North Korea test-fired an ICBM, presumed to be a Hwasong-17, into the East Sea followed by a massive flight of military aircraft the next day. The 35 missiles the North fired for four days in reaction to a South Korea-U.S. joint air force drill dubbed “Vigilant Storm” shows the gravity of the situation.

Under such volatile circumstances, defense ministers of South Korea and the U.S. held a Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) in Washington on Thursday and agreed to deploy U.S. strategic assets to the peninsula in a timely and coordinated way when needed. That’s a declaration by Uncle Sam that he will deploy strategic weapons to the peninsula on a regular basis to counter the mounting nuclear and missile threat from North Korea.

The two allies also agreed to establish the Counter-Missile Working Group (CMWG) and carry out military exercises annually for the operation of extended deterrence. In a joint statement, the two allies pronounced that if North Korea uses nuclear weapons, including tactical nukes, the Kim Jong-un regime will disappear from the map. That’s a stern warning to the North not to make any misjudgment.

The security situation on the Korean Peninsula has become more complicated than in 2019 at the climax of tensions between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un due to China and Russia blindly siding with North Korea. That demands close security cooperation among South Korea, the U.S. and Japan. On Sunday, the government sent a warship to an international naval review aimed at celebrating the 70th year of the founding of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. We appreciate the step by the Yoon Suk-yeol administration to protect the security and future of South Korea.

The goal of the North is to get international recognition as a nuclear power, take the South as hostage and start nuclear reduction talks with America. North Korea is waiting for the appropriate time to push the button for its seventh nuclear test. A UN Security Council meeting on Friday failed to issue a joint statement denouncing North Korea for its ballistic missile launches due to opposition from Russia and China.

Such alarming developments demand a concerted voice from South Korea. Fortunately, the National Defense Committee in the legislature passed a resolution Friday to denounce North Korea’s missile provocations and urge it to stop them. The resolution defined its recent provocations as a clear violation of the Sept. 19, 2018 Military Agreements and several UN resolutions. It warned North Korea not to continue missile provocations. Nevertheless, we still have lawmakers calling for the suspension of joint South-U.S. military drills. Such frivolous thinking must stop.
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