Vatican condemns North Korean nuclear test, missile launches

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican has condemned the latest round of nuclear testing and missile launching by North Korea, warning that these acts of aggression threaten “the very survival” of the country’s own people by exacerbating its isolation.

The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published a front-page news story May 27 along with an editorial titled “International isolation as a regime’s choice.”

North Korea drew swift and angry international condemnation after announcing May 25 that it had successfully performed a nuclear experiment. Seismic equipment registered a small blast in the eastern portion of the country. Three short-range missiles were then launched into the Sea of Japan.

The following day, May 26, two more missiles were launched off the country’s eastern coast.

In its commentary, L’Osservatore said, “Barack Obama has condemned Pyongyang’s nuclear test, labeling it a threat to international security and peace. But even before being a threat to peace, this atomic experiment constitutes a threat to the very survival of the North Korean people who will pay the consequences of the isolation the regime has chosen.” Pyongyang is North Korea’s capital.

Calling the North Korean government a “Stalinist regime,” the editorial said the country “risks total isolation after its latest challenge to the international community.”

North Korea conducted its first nuclear experiment Oct. 9, 2006. In early April 2009, it unsuccessfully launched a rocket in an attempt to place a satellite in orbit.

This time, the editorial said, even Russia and China seem prepared to invoke sanctions. In the past, it said, “China maintained its policy of friendship with North Korea because of strategic considerations – its rivalry in the Pacific with the United States – and out of fear that the collapse of the (North Korean) regime would push millions of refugees into its territory.”

Behind the North Korean show of force, it said, “there probably is an internal crisis due to the leadership of Kim Jong-il who has never been able to dissipate the impression that he is a pale copy of his father, Kim Il-sung.”

In South Korea, a Catholic leader expressed concerns over North Korea’s latest nuclear test and urged the government to establish dialogue with the North, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News.

“The nuclear test creates hostility toward North Korea. The big task for the Catholic Church is to ensure the faithful do not give in to such hostility,” said Father Raphael Seo Jong-yeob, executive secretary of the Korean bishops’ Committee for the Reconciliation of Korean People. “The government should not goad the North and make the situation worse. What is needed is not careless judgment, but waiting and listening.”

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.