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N. Korea’s nuclear provocations would only lead to self-destruction

N. Korea’s nuclear provocations would only lead to self-destruction

Posted December. 31, 2019 07:50,   

Updated December. 31, 2019 07:50


North Korea has held a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party for three days since Saturday. “Enhancing the country’s strategic position” was the main agenda of the meeting. Being mindful of China and Russia, North Korea was cautious in choosing words and expressions but “strategic position” was the expression‎ it had used when showing off its nuclear weapons such as intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). Concerns are rising that the North could suspend its nuclear negotiations with the U.S. by making another provocation since the use of the expression‎ suggests that the North would make an important decision regarding its strategic weapons, including nuclear arms.

A plenary meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party is North Korea’s top decision-making council. The meeting has not been held more than one day since1990 when there was the 17th meeting under the regime founder Kim Il Sung. The meeting was held at the headquarters of the ruling Workers’ Party, and the participants included executives at central organizations and even the members of the Provisional People’s Committee of North Korea. It appears North Korea is preparing to make a major decision with a few days remaining until its year-end deadline.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for enhancing the country’s strategic position during a Saturday’s Workers’ Party meeting followed by “aggressive and offensive measures” to protect the country’s security and sovereignty during the Sunday meeting. Kim mentioned the war industry and the country’s armed force to signal advanced nuclear and strategic weapons. During his New Year’s speech, the North Korean leader is expected to present a big picture for “a new road,” which he used to say the country is pursuing. Although there was no “Christmas present” the North had warned of, analysts say the date has only been delayed to Kim Jong Un’s birthday, which falls on next Tuesday, or Kim Jong Il’s birthday on Feb. 16.

The U.S. has kept stressing that it will respond firmly to any provocations by North Korea. U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien warned that the U.S. has lots of “tools in its tool kit” to respond to potential threats by North Korea, suggesting that the U.S. could impose additional sanctions and take military action against North Korea.

The current situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula is critical like it was two years ago. Under this serious circumstance, the Moon Jae-in administration is interested only in easing sanctions against North Korea by linking railway and road networks. Now is the high time to warn North Korea that its old brinkmanship does not work anymore and focus on strengthening ROK-U.S. alliance to maintain a robust security posture.

Young-Sik Kim spear@donga.com