North Korea’s provocations

North Korea has been stepping up its hostile moves. It has even threatened to launch nuclear missile attacks on Guam, the continental United States and Seoul as well as three areas in Japan hosting U.S. military bases — Misawa, Yokosuka and Okinawa. Its behavior defies common sense.

The international community must strictly monitor its actions and deepen cooperation among its members to dissuade the North from starting a harmful action.

The North abrogated a nonaggression pact with South Korea on March 8 hours before tough United Nations-imposed sanctions against it took effect. The North announced March 11 that the 1953 Korean War armistice was null and void. It declared March 30 that it had entered a “state of war” with South Korea.

In party and parliamentary meetings March 31, North Korea adopted a policy of upgrading nuclear weapons development as well as rebuilding its economy. Its parliament enacted a law that said the country will “strengthen qualitatively and quantitatively” its nuclear deterrent.

On April 2, the North said that it will reactivate a graphite nuclear reactor, which can produce plutonium, in its Yongbyon nuclear complex. It also has reportedly moved what are believed to be intermediate-range ballistic missiles to its east coast.

North Korea is defying the international community, whose will was expressed in the sanctions that the U.N. adopted following its third nuclear test in February. The North should realize that its moves also caused President Xi Jinping, president of China, its ally and patron, to lose face. China is sending a message to the North by allowing opinions critical of North Korea to be published.

North Korea may carry out long-range rocket tests and nuclear explosion tests in an attempt to build an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the continental U.S., and may use these tests as a means of luring the U.S. into direct talks. But Washington is unlikely to be deceived by such moves. U.S. State Secretary John Kerry has said the U.S. will not accept the North as a nuclear state, noting that “what Kim Jong Un is choosing to do is provocative. It is dangerous, reckless.”

North Korean leader Mr. Kim Jong Un should realize that possession of nuclear weapons will not make his country safer. The international community now regards North Korea as a renegade state, determined to cause instability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia. The development and maintenance of nuclear weapons will impoverish North Korea. Mr. Kim should learn a lesson from the Soviet Union’s collapse, which resulted in part from the tremendous cost of its nuclear arms race with the U.S.

To counter the North, the U.S. has included B-52 strategic bombers and B-2 stealth bombers in its joint military drill with South Korea. The U.S. and South Korea should exercise utmost care so that their actions don’t trigger a conflict with the North.