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[Editorial] Sanctions with teeth

THAAD deployment inevitable for missile defense

Ignoring repeated warnings from the global community, North Korea has launched a long-range rocket. Pyongyang claimed the launch was part of its scientific space program, but it was a thinly disguised ballistic missile test.

In any case, the rocket launch Sunday, which came a month after a nuclear bomb test on Jan. 6, was a flagrant violation of the multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions banning the rogue state from using ballistic missile technology.

Now, the international community should force the recalcitrant Pyongyang regime to face the consequences of its reckless provocations.

The U.N. Security Council responded quickly by unanimously condemning the North’s missile test in an emergency meeting Monday.

Yet the council is unlikely to come up with new sanctions other than those it has been discussing to punish the North for its alleged hydrogen bomb test a month ago. In the face of Chinese opposition, the United States has been unable to push through the “toughest yet” sanctions on Pyongyang.

To ensure that the Security Council develops sanctions with teeth against the North, Seoul needs to cooperate with Washington and Tokyo to step up pressure on Beijing.

Separate from the Security Council sanctions, the three allies need to implement measures, jointly and unilaterally, that would not only impose real pain on the North but push China toward endorsing tougher sanctions.

In this regard, it was right that Seoul and Washington decided to begin negotiations on the “earliest possible” deployment of the THAAD missile defense system to Korea.

China immediately protested the move, seeing it as a threat to its own national security. Yet China’s protest was nothing more than an unwarranted attempt to influence South Korea’s security policy. The North’s increasing missile threats justify Seoul’s efforts to upgrade the South Korea-U.S. alliance’s missile defense posture.

Washington also needs to put Pyongyang in a financial chokehold, as it did in 2005. At the time, the U.S. Treasury Department blacklisted a Macau Bank called Banco Delta Asia, a move that not only froze North Korean money in the bank but effectively cut off the wayward regime from the international financial system by scaring off other financial institutions from dealing with Pyongyang.

Tight financial restrictions are essential to preventing the North from conducting additional nuclear bomb and missile tests, as they would make acquisition of necessary equipment and materials more difficult. 

For its part, the South Korean government needs to take all the steps within its reach to force the North to “pay a severe price” for its provocations. 

The industrial complex in Gaeseong is a cash cow for the impoverished regime. Following the North’s missile launch, the government said the number of South Koreans allowed to stay at the industrial complex would be reduced. It has now gone further by announcing that it will end its involvement there.

Expanding anti-North Korean loudspeaker broadcasts is another effective measure that the South can take. Seoul has resumed its propaganda broadcasts along the border following the North’s fourth nuclear bomb test.

While pushing for these and other punitive measures, the government needs to raise its guard against additional military provocations by the North.