[Editorial] Useless firing of an ICBM by North

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[Editorial] Useless firing of an ICBM by North

On Saturday, North Korea fired a Hwasong-15 ICBM for the first time in 2023. That constitutes a brazen violation of the UN Security Council resolution. After firing 68 missiles, including eight ICBMs, last year, the North is expected to continue its missile provocations this year.

Amid deepening food shortages across the country — and despite the breaking news that Pyongyang even prepares to cut food rationing to each soldier — the recalcitrant regime is busy doing fireworks.

After the ICBM flew 989 kilometers to the East Sea at a maximum altitude of 5,768 kilometers for 66 minutes before plunging into the waters inside Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, Tokyo was infuriated. If the missile has been fired at a normal angle, it is presumed to have reached the U.S. mainland after flying 14,000 kilometers. However, a video of the descending missile, captured by a Japanese fighter jet, shows its warhead was broken into pieces and vanished from sight after being caught on fire. After an earlier failure on Nov. 3, North Korea fired an enhanced Hwasong-15 ICBM with a lighter warhead. But this time too, the missile seems to have failed to reenter the atmosphere.

After the missile launch, Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, said, “We have no intention to deal with South Korea, but will respond to our enemy overwhelmingly.” The enemy refers to the U.S. “As they [South Koreans] are idiots, we will not have to aim an ICBM at Seoul to awaken them,” she said. Her remarks are aimed to drive a wedge in the South-U.S. alliance on the occasion of its 70th anniversary.

As Seoul and Washington prepare to conduct an exercise to operate the means of U.S. extended deterrence at the Pentagon on Wednesday to prepare for a possible nuclear provocation by North Korea — and as the joint South-U.S. Freedom Shield drill is slated for mid-March — North Korea showed such a strong reaction. A UN Security Council meeting requested by the U.S. and the clear definition of the North Korean regime and military as “our enemy” in the first National Defense Whitepaper from the Yoon Suk Yeol administration also may have played a part.

Shortly after the firing of the ICBM, the government held a National Security Council meeting hosted by National Security Advisor Kim Sun-han. The foreign ministers of South Korea, the U.S. and Japan also raised one voice to denounce the missile provocation while attending the Munich Security Conference 2023. North Korea must understand that it cannot reap any gains from military provocations as they only help consolidate the security cooperation among Seoul, Washington and Tokyo.

Our Ministry of National Defense must carry out its planned exercises as scheduled without being shaken by the North’s threats. Whether it be a nuclear bomb, missile or spy balloon, our military must strengthen defense posture.
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