China slams latest NK missile test

By Guo Yuandan and Zhang Hui-Mareeg.com-Pyongyang residents watch TV announcer Ri Chun-hee talk about the successful launch of what North Korea called the intercontinental ballistic missile “Hwasong-14,” on a jumbo screen near the Pyongyang Railway Station on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

China and Russia issued a joint communiqué on Monday and called on North Korea, South Korea and the US to negotiate on Korean Peninsula issues, including denuclearization, after North Korea announced it successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The communiqué urged all parties to adopt China’s plan that would see Pyongyang suspend its ballistic missile program and the US and South Korea simultaneously call for a moratorium on large-scale military exercises.

The communiqué reiterated China and Russia’s opposition to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system and accused its deployment of bringing serious harm to the strategic security interest of countries.

North Korea on Tuesday declared that it has successfully launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-14, calling it a milestone in its missile development program.

China said it opposes North Korea’s missile launch which runs contrary to UN Security Council resolutions.

“China urges North Korea to refrain from acts that violate UN Security Council resolutions so as to create necessary conditions for resuming dialogue and negotiations,” Geng Shuang, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, said at a news briefing.

UN Security Council resolutions ban North Korea from conducting any launches that use ballistic missile technology, nuclear tests or any other provocation.

North Korea has conducted four ballistic missile tests since May. The country fired four missiles into the sea east of the peninsula on June 8, which the South Korean military believes were surface-to-ship cruise missiles.

Tuesday’s launch happened three days after South Korean President Moon Jae-in met with Trump in Washington, DC and only a few days before the opening of the G20 summit where Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are scheduled to meet. North Korea chose a time to protest what it sees as concerted efforts by the world’s powers to put pressure on Pyongyang.

“North Korea’s missile test will escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula, which will be reflected in US and South Korean determination to deploy the THAAD system,” Jin said, adding that the test will also dampen ties between China and the US, as the US may adopt tougher policies to pressure China.

US President Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday that China might put a heavy move on North Korea to “end the nonsense once and for all.”

However, Geng said that China has played an indispensable role in solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula, and it hopes all relevant parties work together to bring the issue back to the negotiating table.

“While we denounce North Korean missile tests, we should also demand that the US and South Korea act in the right way,” Lü Chao, a researcher at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

An ICBM?

Tuesday’s missile reached an altitude of 2,802 kilometers and flew 933 kilometers for 39 minutes, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

However, Yang Chengjun, a Chinese missile expert and quantum defense scientist, told the Global Times that the missile tested could not have been an intercontinental ballistic missile because an intercontinental ballistic missile should reach at least 8,000 kilometers in altitude based on international standards.

But the test showed that North Korea achieved progress in the missile’s range if the data is proven accurate, he added.

“Based on available data of the latest test, North Korea’s missile may reach the US with a bigger thruster,” Jin Qiangyi, director of the Asia Research Center of Yanbian University, told the Global Times.

But experts pointed out that North Korea’s missile technologies remain immature.

North Korea has failed to solve missile launch problems, such as accurately detonating and safely separating the rocket without causing harm to subjects on the ground, Yang said.

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Mareeg senior news editor since 2001 and he can be reached at news@mareeg.com