China urges nuclear North Korea not to fire missile as Seoul boosts THAAD defence
South Korea will soon install four additional advanced US missile defence system launchers to better insure against North Korea’s escalating threats
China has warned North Korea against proceeding with its reported plans to launch another ballistic missile, saying it should not worsen tensions.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters Monday that North Korea “must be very clear” that UN Security Council resolutions prohibit such activities.
South Korea’s Defence Ministry earlier said that North Korea appeared to be planning a future missile launch, possibly of an ICBM.
In Beijing, Geng said China hoped all parties, especially North Korea “exercise restraint and refrain from further escalating tensions.”
Geng also said that China had lodged “stern representations” with the North Korean Embassy in Beijing after the North conducted its sixth nuclear test on Sunday.
Watch: Reactions to North Korea’s H-bomb test
Reports of a possible missile launch by the North came South Korea announced plans to allow the “temporary” deployment of a controversial US defence shield that has infuriated China.
Seoul’s defence ministry said South Korea and the United States would deploy four more anti-missile defences in response to Sunday’s nuclear test.
Two launchers of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system are already operational, but public concern about the possible environmental impact of the US system forced Seoul to suspend the installation.
“Four remaining launchers will soon be temporarily deployed through consulations between South Korea and the US to counter growing nuclear and missile threats from the North,” the ministry said in a statement.
The THAAD launchers are sited on a golf course-turned-US military base in Seongju County, 300 kilometres south of Seoul.
The US anti-missile system has been a source of diplomatic tensions between South Korea and China, which fears its powerful radar may peer into Chinese territory.
It has also faced opposition from local residents who say the previous administration made a hasty decision to install the US anti-missile system without due procedures.
Seoul’s defence ministry said the final deployment of the THAAD missile system would hinge on an environmental impact study.
Seoul’s defence ministry also measured North Korea’s nuclear test on Sunday at 50 kilotons, Yonhap reported.
That would make it five times the size of the North’s previous test in September last year, and more than three times bigger than the US device that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.
The detonation Sunday was the strongest ever from the North, which claimed the test was of a hydrogen bomb.
The nuclear test prompted an international chorus of condemnation. The Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Monday.
At their summit in China, the North’s key ally, the five-nation BRICS grouping - taking in the host nation as well as Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa - said Monday it “strongly deplores” the test.
Moon and Abe agreed to work for stronger sanctions against the North, but seven sets of UN measures have so far done nothing to deter Pyongyang.
The North – which in July carried out two intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launches that apparently brought much of the US mainland into range – has rapidly made progress with its weapons programme in defiance of seven sets of UN sanctions.
South Korea responded to the nuclear test with live-fire drills off its eastern coast Monday that were meant to simulate an attack on the North’s main nuclear test site.
Agence France-Presse, Associated Press