by WorldTribune Staff, June 8, 2017
What is China doing to check the weapons of mass destruction programs of its top communist ally?
Nations that are “concerned” by North Korea’s continuous missile tests should refrain from taking “any action that could escalate regional tensions,” China’s Foreign Ministry said on June 8.
Those “concerned countries” should “make joint efforts to ease tensions and work toward regional stability,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a briefing at which he did not elaborate on what measure his government was taking as the sole nation in the world with leverage over the North Korean regime.
Hua’s comments came after reports from the South Korean military that North Korea earlier on June 8 had fired off several short-range ground-to-ship projectiles toward the East Sea from the eastern coastal city of Wonsan. The missiles were said to have flown some 200 kilometers, according to a Yonhap report.
“We are closely watching related news reports and taking note of varying reports on the nature of the fired projectiles,” Hua said.
South Korea’s military said the missiles North Korea fired on June 8 may be of the same type as what was unveiled during the North’s April 15 military parade, what appeared to be a new land-to-ship cruise missile on a mobile launcher.
Army Col. Roh Jae-Cheon, a spokesman for the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the North’s June 8 missile firing seemed aimed at “showing off its capability with various types of missiles and demonstrating its anti-ship precision-strike ability in connection with joint maritime drills involving U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups.”
The launch marked the North’s fifth-known round of missile fires since liberal South Korea President Moon Jae-In took office. Moon has hinted at an intensive push for easing military tensions and improving inter-Korean relations, the Yonhap report said.
On May 29, North Korea fired a Scud-type ballistic missile from Wonsan which flew some 450 kilometers. The following day, the North’s state media said the missile used a new high-precision guidance system in a test that was inspected by leader Kim Jong-Un.
On May 27, North Korea conducted a surface-to-air guided missile test, believed to be a KN-06.
On May 14, the North launched a “Hwasong-12” mid-to-long-range ballistic missile from north of Pyongyang, followed by the firing of a Pukguksong-2 medium-range ballistic missile, also known as KN-15, a week later from another site north of the capital.
In Washington, the U.S. missile defense chief voiced concerns about the pace of development in the North’s missile program.
“It is incumbent upon us to assume that North Korea today can reach the United States with an ICBM carrying a nuclear warhead,” Vice Adm. James Syring told a congressional hearing.