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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Sept. 16)

07:02 September 16, 2021

Stop the provocations

North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the East Sea on Wednesday, just a few days after its launch of advanced long-distance cruise missiles. After Wednesday's launch, President Moon Jae-in held a National Security Council meeting at the Blue House. But the government still reacted to the missile provocation passively, saying they were just short-range missiles. The government also took no action after North Korea test-fired the cruise missiles over the weekend, saying it did not constitute a violation of UN Security Council resolutions. The government's careless attitude only helps deepen anxiety among the public.

The North's firing of short-range ballistic missiles is a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions, which strictly ban any missile launches by North Korea using ballistic missile technology. The launches can only cause alarm following the cruise missile tests and the reactivation of the Yongbyon nuclear facility.

Such continuous provocations are a serious issue. On Monday, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi described signs of a reactivation of the nuclear reactor in Yongbyon to extract highly-enriched uranium (HEU) from spent fuel. He expressed great concerns about the possibility of North Korea possessing additional HEU and weapons-grade plutonium, as it could lead to the production of more nuclear weapons than before.

The remarks Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made after his meeting with his Korean counterpart Chung Eui-yong in Seoul on Wednesday were even more shocking. Wang sided with Pyongyang after brushing off its missile provocations. "Not only North Korea but also other countries engage in military activities," he said. We cannot understand his comments. Didn't he visit South Korea in order to cooperate? He should have at least asked North Korea to restrain from such provocations during his visit. Nevertheless, Moon continues to beg China to help with his Korean Peninsula Peace Process. Moon is hell-bent on engaging North Korea even in the face of its escalation of provocation level. Peace can arrive only after national security is ensured.

We are deeply worried about his refusal to warn North Korea even after its reactivation of the nuclear facility and missile launches. Our intelligence authorities failed to detect any signs of the cruise missile launch over the weekend. The Ministry of National Defense launched three types of missile, including an SLBM, shortly after the North's ballistic missile launch. But the public has grave doubts about the government's ability to deal with threats from North Korea. We hope the government does not disappoint the public once again when it comes to vital matters of national security.
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