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International relations

Sanctions without engagement will not tame North Korea

Lacking any credible military option, U.S. should give diplomacy a chance

| North Korea

For North Korea, reeling under severe United Nations sanctions, conducting missile tests has become a regular expression of political defiance and technological progress. Just last year, showing its continuing contempt for UN resolutions, it tested at least two dozen missiles, including a submarine-launched ballistic missile. Yet, its first missile test since Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election in November -- conducted on Feb. 12 -- has been speciously portrayed as a major challenge to the new administration in Washington, with some analysts like ex-CIA chief James Woolsey even calling North Korea the top national security problem at present.

The fact is that the latest test did not involve a long-range ballistic missile, which North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un had said in his New Year's Day speech was almost ready for launch. The fired missile, which traveled 500km, was just a medium-range type that Pyongyang has tested multiple times in different variants. And although North Korea said the test involved a new missile model with a solid fuel-powered engine -- a technological advance that facilitates mobility and rapid launch -- this is not the country's first solid-fueled missile. As Pyongyang admits, the new surface-to-surface missile is based on its solid-fueled submarine-launched ballistic missile.

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