Posted December. 13, 2012 06:18,
North Korea launched a long-range missile Wednesday despite warnings from the international community. The missile put its payload into orbit after undergoing three stages of separation. Controversy over whether the rocket was for putting a satellite into orbit is meaningless. The most urgent issue is to prevent North Korea from committing provocations. This is because that Pyongyang has developed the technology for building intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of more than 10,000 kilometers, and can strike the U.S. mainland. History has also raised the possibility that the rocket launch will lead to an additional nuclear test by Pyongyang. The possibility cannot be ruled out that North Korea poses a threat with a nuclear warhead mounted on a ballistic missile. If Pyongyang is left alone, preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction will be a far cry.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who assumed power after the death of his father Kim Jong Il in December last year, committed two missile provocations in less than a year since his inauguration. Kim Jong Un fired a missile in April just before the centennial birthday of Kim Il Sung, his late grandfather and founder of the Stalinist country, and another this month just before the first anniversary of Kim Jong Il`s death. The launches are typical moves by a dictator who tries to solidifies his people`s loyalty internally and seeks confrontation externally. Having fired another long-range missile costing 450 million U.S. dollars just eight months after the previous launch, Kim Jong Un is the same as his father.
Through two resolutions, the United Nations Security Council prohibited North Korea from launching any rocket based on ballistic missile technology. In April, the council issued a presidential statement saying the U.N. will take corresponding action if the North fired another rocket or missile. The latest launch is a slap in the face for the world body.
North Korea has also turned its back on its closest ally China, which urged Pyongyang to exercise "prudent action." The missile launch is also an insult to new Chinese President Xi Jinping. The first thing the new president did after taking office was to send a special envoy to Pyongyang to dissuade North Korea from proceeding with the launch. Beijing should seriously consider if peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula are possible while ignoring Kim Jong Un`s challenge to South Korea. The missile launch is also a challenge to the Obama administration, which is about to start its second term. Washington should know that warnings or light sanctions can no longer stop North Korean from developing missiles and nuclear weapons.
South Korea is the first party that should take the lead in handling the security crisis caused by the provocation of North Korea. Seoul will serve as a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council from January next year, and should resolve without fail to present strong punishment that Pyongyang would fear. Certain pro-North Korea forces in South Korea are undermining security basis inside the country, comparing Pyongyang`s missile test to Seoul`s attempt to launch the Naro satellite. South Korea`s presidential candidates should also cooperate with their government in punishing North Korea.