This Is No Time to Disarm

      October 16, 2018 14:00

      The government has decided to postpone testing of a long-range surface-to-air missile called L-SAM that is being developed to thwart a North Korean missile attack. Cheong Wa Dae canceled tests that were scheduled for April and June due to the inter-Korean summit. Yet North Korea has deployed hundreds of mid- and long-range missiles capable of striking targets in the South, so it seems a bizarre decision to delay testing of a missile that could intercept and destroy them 40 to 60 km in the air. There is no telling when the development of the L-SAM will get back on track given the rose-tinted spectacles every member of this government seems to be wearing.

      The Defense Ministry said the tests were postponed due to "technical issues" such as conditions at the launch site, but that sounds implausible. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration has already admitted to lawmakers that the tests were postponed due to the April 27 inter-Korean summit and June 12 U.S.-North Korea summit. Fresh tests are now scheduled for October and November, but another delay is possible if another U.S.-North Korea summit materializes.

      If North Korea scraps its nuclear weapons and bio-chemical arsenal, of course it could be necessary for South Korea to cut down on its own weapons development plans. But this weapon is being developed precisely to protect Seoul from hundreds of North Korean Rodong and Scud missiles raining down on it. Why should it worry about North Korea's feelings in developing such necessary defense systems?

      The South Korean military is disarming left, right and center. Rather than preparing for the worst, troops are left hoping for the best. Their ability to monitor North Korea's maneuvers is being seriously hampered under a cross-border military agreement, and now the two Koreas are to discuss the issue of arms production. Conditions are becoming more and more difficult to bolster even conventional weapons even as the North blithely holds on to its weapons of mass destruction.

      Denuclearization talks with North Korea could drag on indefinitely. Judging from previous negotiations, they can very easily break down at some point, returning everyone to square one. Is there anyone in the government who is concerned about defending the nation?

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