Moon says 'high possibility' of conflict with North as missile crisis builds

Remigio Civitarese
Mag 19, 2017

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Friday he's willing to help ties with South Korea return to a "normal track" amid a rift over Seoul's deployment of a high-tech USA missile-defense system to guard against North Korean threats.

Speaking ahead of an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council following North Korea's latest missile test at the weekend, Haley said she believed the United States and others would agree with North Korea's neighbor and ally China on how to respond to the launch.

That statement from North Korea's state media was a paraphrase of President Kim's celebratory remarks after his country launched a new type of "medium long-range" ballistic rocket that can carry a heavy nuclear warhead. "But there are no specific steps in the offing", Lee Duk-haeng, a spokesman for South Horea's unification ministry, told reporters. "The Unification Ministry has considered options on this internally, but nothing has been decided yet", said Lee.

Communications were severed by the North past year, Lee said, in the wake of new sanctions following North Korea's last nuclear test and Pyongyang's decision to shut down a joint industrial zone operated inside the North.

" ... The most ideal weapon systems in the world will never become the eternal exclusive property of the US ... the USA should not ... disregard or misjudge the reality that its mainland and Pacific operation region are in (North Korea's) sighting range for strike". Clashes between residents and police over the deployment of an advanced US anti-missile system highlight a divisive issue ahead of South Korea's presidential election on May 9.

Haley said that USA and China have been working on "a unified plan" on how to approach North Korea that would include stronger implementation of existing sanctions and tougher new sanctions. South Korea has "been informed only of the fact that the North Korean missile was detected over the phone and through word of mouth".

But bilateral relations plunged to their lowest level in many years after Seoul's announcement last summer that it would host the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile system, or THAAD.

It has retaliated against Seoul by suspending visits to South Korea by Chinese tour groups and trips to China by South Korean entertainers.

David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the missile could have a range of 4,500 kilometers (about 2,800 miles) if flown on a standard, instead of lofted, trajectory - considerably longer than North Korea's current missiles.

"If you are a country that is supplying or supporting North Korea, we will call you out on it", Haley said.

In Washington, A U.S. defense official told AFP the missile fired on Sunday appeared to be a liquid-fueled KN-17, marking what appeared to be the most successful launch of such a device. Haley said, adding that Russian Federation had it "all wrong".

He said Trump was also interested in achieving peace through dialogue with the North, although calling on sanctions for now to pressure Pyongyang. Hong said he would discuss North Korea with high-ranking officials in Washington.

"They have the overwhelming dominant economic relationship with North Korea and because they have the greatest leverage, they have the great responsibility", the Australian leader said.

Trump's comments could not immediately be independently verified.

"Combining nuclear warheads with ballistic missile technology in the hands of a volatile leader like Kim Jong Un is a recipe for disaster", he said Wednesday in a speech at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, a think tank in Tokyo.

The test was in open defiance of UN Security Council resolutions and the worldwide community has widely condemned the launch.

"We all have to send a sign to North Korea, and that is "No more".

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