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Quick responses needed for any N. Korean action

By Richard Lawless / Special to The Yomiuri ShimbunIn the wake of the failed Hanoi summit meeting in February, the U.S.-led international coalition is strengthening the economic sanctions program directed at North Korea. Also, it appears that South Korean President Moon Jae-in has just departed Washington, having failed in his attempt to convince U.S. President Donald Trump to compromise on key sanctions that would have allowed Moon to reengage with Pyong-yang. Facing all this, we can expect that the North Korean ruler is becoming frustrated with the negotiating process.

From past experience, the North Koreans may elect to mount a provocation, be that act directed at the United States, Japan or South Korea. They will do so with the calculated expectation that the United States will rush to placate Pyongyang and offer concessions.

On April 15, 1969, exactly fifty years ago, a U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft EC-121 was blown out of the sky over international waters by North Korea. Not coincidentally, it was the 57th birthday of North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung. This same level of singled-minded determination manifest in the April 1969 act-of-war remains the order of the day in Pyongyang. Neither logic nor rationale need be involved.

In the event of such, the United States should deliver a swift and decisive response, and we should be fully prepared.

We should recognize that the nuclear, other weapons of mass destruction, conventional weapons and ballistic missile delivery programs now in the hands of the North Koreans are perceived by the Pyongyang regime as irreplaceable elements critical to the sustainment of that regime. None will be given up willingly.

— Lawless is a former deputy undersecretary at the U.S. Defense Department.Speech

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