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Pioneer Editorial: North Korea can no longer be ignored

After the events of the past few days, it should become crystal clear: North Korea as a threat to world peace must be contained. It must be disarmed. It must be isolated.

Those who thought North Korean President Kim Jong Il nothing more than a blowhard had better take note, as North Korea in our estimation has climbed to become the most serious threat to world peace since the height of the Cold War.

Despite numerous warnings -- and pleadings to come to the negotiating table -- North Korea on Tuesday and Wednesday launched seven test missiles, one of which is said to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to the continental United States. Although that missile test failed, with the rocket tumbling into the Sea of Japan, it nonetheless amounts to Kim Jong Il's tossing of the gauntlet onto the ground.

North Korea's insistence that the tests are needed in order to provide a deterrent to an U.S. invasion ring hollow. That country's blindsided fixation that it truly needs nuclear weaponry to survive is disturbing, to say the least. First, why would any nation want to "conquer" another nation which offers nothing -- nearly all its population is in abject poverty and is a country with few valuable resources and doesn't produce anything but weapons of mass destruction for sale to those who would quash democracy.

We are a nation of our word -- with Cuba as an example. As much as Fidel Castro is a thorn in democracy's side, the United States allows that society to continue as long as it harbors no weapons which can be used against us -- a result of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

So far, North Korea has stymied efforts at six-party talks on its nuclear program. We cannot wait for North Korea to decide to resume those talks while building up its nuclear arsenal and continued testing of launch vehicles. The talks -- involving Japan, South Korea, China, Russia and the United States -- must go on with or without North Korea. The instability of North Korea to world peace threatens the future security of Russia and China just as much as it does Japan, South Korea and the United States.

All parties must join with the United Nations in shutting down North Korea, through severe economic sanctions fostered by the U.N. Security Council, and an especially strong slap from Russia and China.

The Korean War, fought in the early 1950s, was never resolved. Only a truce has remained since then. North Korea, however, is saber-rattling, and perhaps it is time to seek a final resolution -- but it must be in concert with Russia, China and the United Nations. North Korea must be isolated by world action, or it could easily trigger a nuclear confrontation that no one -- other than a nation with nothing to lose -- wants.