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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Dec. 2)

2017/12/02 09:23

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A graver threat

The launch of an advanced Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICMB) by North Korea has sent shock waves around the world and calls for determined action by Seoul. According to a Defense Ministry report to the National Assembly Defense Committee, the ICBM fired off at in the wee hours of Wednesday could have flown 13,000 kilometers (8,080 miles) if launched at a normal angle, putting Washington, D.C. in its reach. The 21-meter (69-foot) missile is bigger than the previous versions tested twice in July with a more powerful and sophisticated engine and projectile system. From what Seoul officials have said, it appears that North Korea's ambitious ruler Kim Jong-un has mastered nuclear-tipped, long-range missile technology as he vowed to do in a New Year's address. In telephone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump, President Moon Jae-in reaffirmed to push pressure to the highest level.

The new ICBM has threatens the entire American population. Pyongyang can intimidate the United States with nuclear weapons and shake the U.S.-South Korean alliance. The missile's ability to re-enter the atmosphere has not been confirmed, but a nuclear device can go off at an altitude of 20 kilometers or higher. The electromagnetic pulse from such an explosion could instantly knock out electronics systems within 100 kilometers. A single blast could destroy digital connections in several U.S. cities. If the missile has the ability to re-enter the atmosphere, a nuclear warhead could wipe out New York or other metropolises.

People may think our president is obsessed with bringing North Koreans to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. That event will be high-profile and politically symbolic if North Korea participates. But what is more important is to stop Pyongyang in its mad pursuit of nuclear weapons. The situation is extremely grave. The government must prepare the public for the possibility of attack. Our defenses must be reinforced. At the same time, it must tighten cooperation with the international community and our alliance with the United States.

(END)

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