September 16, 2015 12:33
North Korea has threatened to launch a long-range missile and nuclear attacks on "hostile" countries. The North is gearing up for the Oct. 10 anniversary of the Workers Party, so some degree of bluster is to be expected.
But if Pyongyang goes ahead with the missile launch or nuclear test, the provocations would not only violate UN Security Council resolutions but also destroy any trust that was built up in the dramatic resolution of the latest military standoff with the South.
The two Koreas agreed on Aug. 25 to resume reunions of families separated by the Korean War in exchange for the South ending propaganda broadcasts along the heavily-armed border.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hailed the agreement as "turning misfortune into a blessing" and vowed to ensure that it "bears fruit." The comments came from Kim himself, yet even the leader's words now seem untrustworthy. How can inter-Korean dialogue continue if such concerns linger?
North Korea has frequently used its missile launches and nuclear tests as leverage to extract more concessions. It probably feels increasingly isolated as Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo plan a fresh trilateral summit. But it must realize that staging a missile or nuclear test would be a grave mistake and lead only to tougher sanctions. The UN Security Council and China have already warned Pyongyang.
The two Koreas have agreed to hold family reunions on Mt. Kumgang for seven days from Oct. 20. Work is under way right now to prepare for them. It would be intolerable if the North breaches the agreement and cancels the reunions again. This would force Seoul to resume propaganda broadcasts across the demilitarized zone. It must remind North Korea of the consequences of any false move.
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