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Path to self-destruction

Sept 23,2017
North Korea’s nuclear provocations appear to be reaching the point of no return. Responding to U.S. President Donald Trump’s address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Thursday said he will take a strong response to Trump’s tough talk. Unprecedentedly, Kim announced the plan himself.

On the same day, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho told reporters in a Manhattan hotel that the strong response could refer to a test of a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean. If Ri’s words are true, North Korea could fire an intercontinental ballistic missile topped with an atomic weapon toward the Pacific and detonate it over the ocean in the near future.

The North’s threat could be put into action. A retired South Korean Army general who served as head of national defense intelligence said that our military intelligence authorities expected North Korea to launch an ICBM loaded with a nuclear warhead into the Pacific to test the power and precision of the new weapon, part of the long journey toward the completion of its nuclear weapons development.

The former Army general underscored that a North Korea under dictator Kim Jong-un’s iron-fisted rule cannot ignore whatever instructions he delivers.

But if North Korea really detonates a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific, it will have huge repercussions. Above all, that’s a brazen violation of international maritime law on the peaceful use of oceans. Nuclear fallout from the explosion of a hydrogen bomb will spread into the upper atmosphere to pollute the air and contaminate all types of fishery resources. That’s not all. If any aircraft or vessels pass by at the time of a nuclear blast, they can suffer inconceivable damage.

North Korea’s nuclear provocation poses an immediate danger to the world. The United States cannot simply look on when the North fires a nuclear warhead-armed ICBM capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. Uncle Sam is sick and tired of the regime in Pyongyang threatening Washington with words and at other times with actions.

The latest threat is not the first of its kind. In early August, North Korea announced a plan to fire intermediate-range ballistic missiles into the waters off Guam, where U.S. strategic weapons are based. Kim’s threat to fire an ICBM carrying a warhead will only lead him to his own demise. We hope Pyongyang ends its nuclear development and comes to the negotiating table if it wants to survive.

JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 23, Page 30