The threat from Pyongyang's new missile: Yomiuri Shimbun

TOKYO (THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – Amid its continuing international isolation and sluggish economy, North Korea apparently aimed to boost its national prestige by showing off its latest weapons.

The country should recognise the current situation, in which the very act of continuing its nuclear development has put North Korea in a difficult position.

A large-scale military parade commemorating the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea was held in Pyongyang.

The unusual practice of holding the military parade in the predawn hours suggests that the event was intended to boost morale by creating a pomp-filled atmosphere with lights and fireworks.

What has attracted attention is a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) believed to be capable of reaching the United States.

It had a longer body and a larger diameter than the ICBM that was released in 2018. The warhead has become larger.

The new ICBM may have a longer range and carry multiple warheads. Since no test launch has been conducted, it is difficult to determine the performance of the missile, but attention should be paid to the growing threat it poses.

Kim Jong Un, the chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, said in his speech that Pyongyang would “continue to strengthen war deterrence” with the United States in mind, expressing his intention to continue North Korea’s nuclear and missile development.

UN Security Council’s sanctions resolutions have banned North Korea from nuclear and ballistic missile development. Maintaining and reinforcing ICBMs is a clear violation of the Security Council resolutions. This can never be accepted.

Kim lamented the shortage of supplies due to the tough, prolonged sanctions. However, each country has stepped up sanctions primarily because North Korea has repeatedly pushed ahead with nuclear tests.

The only way to get the sanctions lifted is to dismantle nuclear weapons, related materials and facilities in a verifiable manner, and eliminate the threat of ballistic missiles.

Measures against the novel coronavirus and damage from typhoons and other natural disasters have further worsened the North Korean economy. There is no doubt that stricter border control with China to prevent the spread of the infectious disease has made it difficult to procure materials.

Kim expressed his thanks for the people’s cooperation in battling the pandemic and in restoration work from the damage caused by natural disasters, and apologised for their continuing difficulties in making a living.

However, he did not mention the important point that his persistence on nuclear development has had a negative impact on the economy.

North Korea has failed to achieve the economic growth target advocated at a party convention in 2016, and it is said that the country will draw up a new five-year plan at a party convention in January next year.

If it aims to reconstruct the economy, it must reconsider its military-biased policy.

A senior US official expressed disappointment at the military parade and urged North Korea to agree to negotiations on denuclearisation.

China and other countries concerned must strictly implement the sanctions and persistently urge Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear development.

The Yomiuri Shimbun is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 24 news media organisations.

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