Sat, Apr 30, 2016 - Page 1 News List

China, Russia decry US missile plan on Korean Peninsula

AFP, BEIJING

Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi, right, and Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov prepare to leave after a news conference in Beijing yesterday.

Photo: EPA

China and Russia yesterday criticized US plans to put a missile defense system on the Korean Peninsula, less than 24 hours after Pyongyang twice tested rockets thought to be capable of reaching US territory.

A series of missile tests and nuclear blasts by North Korea have pushed Seoul into talks with Washington about deploying the US’ sophisticated Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD), which fires projectiles to smash into enemy missiles.

Beijing fears that the presence of more US hardware on its doorstep would further tip the balance of power in the Pacific toward Washington.

“We both are gravely concerned about the US’ likely deployment of the THAAD system in South Korea,” Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) said at a briefing with Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov.

“The move goes beyond the actual defense needs of relevant countries,” Wang said. “It will directly affect the strategic security of China and Russia respectively if it is deployed.”

Lavrov said Washington was using the North’s tests as “an excuse, as a pretext” to deploy what he called Washington’s “global antiballistic missile defense.”

This week’s North Korean rocket tests failed, but Pyongyang has now made three bids in two weeks to test-fly a Musudan missile, which is capable of striking US bases on the Pacific island of Guam.

“The current situation on the peninsula is indeed in a highly dangerous period,” Wang said.

He added that proper implementation of UN resolutions barring the North from developing any ballistic missile-related technology is key to bringing the country to the negotiating table.

China is the North’s biggest trading partner and its key aid provider.

South Korean military officials say the North is desperate to register a successful launch ahead of next week’s ruling party congress, at which North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is expected to take credit for pushing the country’s nuclear program to new heights.

In recent months, the North has claimed a series of major technical breakthroughs in developing what it sees as the ultimate goal of its nuclear drive — an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a warhead to targets across the continental US.

The achievements trumpeted by Pyongyang have included miniaturizing a nuclear warhead to fit on a missile, developing a warhead that can withstand atmospheric re-entry and building a solid-fuel missile engine.

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