China dismisses calls to intervene more in North Korea
Pyongyang hails the missile test as a success
China has voiced opposition to North Korea’s test of a reported new ballistic missile more than 24 hours after reports of the launch emerged.
But the country shrugged off suggestions it should be doing more to intervene in the rogue state’s military affairs, pinning the test down to Pyongyang’s testy relations with Washington and Seoul.
North Korean state media hailed the Sunday test as a success, claiming a previously unpublicized part of the country’s arsenal – a Pukguksong-2, an intermediate-range missile – was launched under the supervision of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
North Korea is prohibited from carrying out ballistic missile launches under UN Security Council resolutions aimed in part at curbing the country’s development of nuclear weapons.
China’s Foreign Ministry said that his country was opposed to launch activities in violation of the resolutions.
“Under current circumstances, relevant sides should not provoke each other or take actions that would escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula,” ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing Monday.
“As I have pointed out repeatedly in the past, the root cause to the North Korea nuclear missile issue is the conflicts between North Korea and the United States, as well as between North and South Korea.”
North Korea’s relationship with China – its most important ally – has kept Pyongyang afloat as sanctions have crippled and isolated it from the rest of the world.
But in recent years, China has taken a tougher line on the North Korean nuclear program, voting in favor of UN sanctions and issuing condemnations when it conducts provocative military tests.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry also spoke out against the test, the first since US President Donald Trump’s inauguration, saying in a statement that it was in “defiant disregard” of UN resolutions.
Russia and China were both members of the Six Party Talks – a diplomatic attempt to curb North Korea’s nuclear program that started in 2003 – along with the US, Japan, and North and South Korea.
‘Clear provocation to Japan’
The United Nations Security Council said it plans to hold consultations on an “urgent basis” Monday afternoon regarding North Korea, according to the US Mission to the UN.
The meeting was requested by the US, South Korea and Japan – whose Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was visiting President Trump in the US when the missile was fired and landed in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea.
Abe said that the test was “absolutely intolerable,” while President Trump said that the United States “stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100%.”
Japan’s chief Cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said the fact the launch came as Abe met with Trump made it “a clear provocation to Japan and the region.” Tokyo has already lodged protests against North Korea via its embassy in Beijing, he said.
What can the Pukguksong-2 do?
Sunday’s test has stoked concerns that Pyongyang may be getting closer to a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile than previously thought.
North Korea tests new missile
The Pukguksong-2 is nuclear-capable, state media claims, and can travel from 3,000 to 5,500 kilometers (1,864 to 3,417 miles).
A US official said the missile tested traveled 500 kilometers (310 miles) before landing in the Sea of Japan and that it was launched from North Pyongan province.
It is believed to have used a solid-fuel propelled engine which enables faster launch and increases the mobility of the launch process, according to a spokesman of the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman.
The Joint Chiefs also believe that Pyongyang employed a cold-launching system, in which the missile is lifted off the ground using pressure and then ignited mid-flight, as opposed to igniting it on the ground – which is said to be less stable, the spokesman said.
Kim expressed satisfaction over “the possession of another powerful nuclear attack means, which adds to the tremendous might of the country,” state media reported.
CNN’s Angela Dewan, Katie Hunt and Steven Jiang contributed to this report