[Editorial] Devise countermeasures for nuclear threats

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[Editorial] Devise countermeasures for nuclear threats

The Ukraine war enters the 365th day today after Russia invaded the country on February 24 a year ago. The United States, NATO and other democracies around the world formed a united front against Russia to help Ukraine. But the costly war drags on. We urge Moscow to end the unjustified war as early as possible.

We are particularly alerted by Russia shaking the global norms on nuclear weapons, as it certainly helps embolden North Korea to accelerate the development of nuclear weapons.

In the course of the war, Russian President Vladimir Putin persistently spoke and acted in an irresponsible manner. Whenever he faced disadvantages, he warned about the possibility of using nukes, as seen in his declaration of Russia’s breakaway from the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New Start) in his speech to the nation on Tuesday. The New Start is a bilateral agreement in 2010 between the United States and Russia to cut the number of nuclear warheads and ICBMs, following an earlier one in 1991.

If nuclear powers kickstart another nuclear race led by Russia, the nonproliferation regime will collapse. A recent Pentagon report raised the likelihood that China will increase the number of its nuclear warheads from approximately 200 to more than 1,000 by 2030. Russia’s expansionism will certainly fuel an arms race in Europe, possibly starting with Germany.

As the Ukraine war dramatically changed international environments, it will make the goal of denuclearizing North Korea more difficult to achieve. The most urgent task for us is checking our military preparedness to meet the changed circumstances. The government must consolidate a sense of national security among citizens after being deceived by the North’s well-calculated peace offensive during the five years of the Moon Jae-in administration.

On the 70th anniversary of the South-U.S. alliance this year, the government must regularize their joint drills. The allies must devise effective ways for joint planning and execution of U.S. nuclear deterrence as early as possible to cope with increasing nuclear threats from North Korea as agreed to by the two defense ministers earlier. The government also must find ways to cooperate with the U.S. and Japan to counter the North Korea-China-Russia alliance.

Even when North Korea frequently test-fires ICBMs these days, China and Russia openly side with it. As a result, the UN Security Council cannot adopt any statement in the name of the council head, let alone any additional sanctions on North Korea. If the recalcitrant state across the border carries out its seventh nuclear test, our countermeasures will certainly run short. The government must squarely face the grim reality before it’s too late.
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