North Korean leaders seem determined to push the world to the brink of war - and perhaps past it. That makes it vitally important for U.S. officials to ensure that hostilities do not occur by mistake or because of erroneous intelligence information.
Pyongyang's most recent provocation is to leak word that it plans to test a medium-range missile - by firing it toward Hawaii. Analysts believe the rocket, even if it performs perfectly, will splash into the ocean at least 500 miles from Hawaii. Compounding the feeling that North Korea is attempting to provoke the United States are reports of when the missile test is planned to take place: July 4.
We agree with the position taken by President Barack Obama - and many other world leaders - in regard to North Korea. That nation's arms buildup and belligerent activities cannot be permitted to continue.
Still, the tension being ratcheted up by Pyongyang is precisely the kind that can result in armed conflict not anticipated or desired by any of the involved parties. We urge Obama, then, to make it a top priority to check and double-check U.S. safeguards against mistakes, perhaps in communication, that could result in war by accident.