Hit Kim Jong Eun where it hurts: His wallet
North Korea’s nuclear test Tuesday has the makings of an epochal event — unless Washington and Seoul shape up and deal Kim Jong Eun’s regime a substantial, although nonmilitary, blow.
Pyongyang’s blast, two months after its first successful intercontinental ballistic missile test in five tries since 1998, and the regime’s demonstrated progress in long-range missile technology are propelling the totalitarian nation toward bona fide nuclear capability. With that comes the capability to provoke its neighbors with impunity and to extort funds, fuel, political legitimacy and even concessions in U.S. and South Korean military forces and readiness. Another nuclear test, especially of a uranium bomb, would mark a turning point.
The Obama administration and South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye must accept that policies of intermittent dialogue and status quo maintenance have failed. For too long, Washington and Seoul have been possessed by a blurry paradigm of “appeasement or war,” effectively depriving themselves of a credible, nonmilitary deterrent if Pyongyang were to continue its external threats and internal repression.
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