In what could be a turning point in China’s foreign policy toward North Korea, Beijing may be ready to support an increase in economic pressure against the isolated state to end ballistic missile and nuclear bomb testing.
Professor Su Hao, of China Foreign Affairs University, remarked that Pyongyang would "be held accountable and pay the price" for acting against UN security resolutions.
Days after South Korea elected a new president who might be favorable to better diplomatic ties with Pyongyang, North Korea launched a medium-range ballistic missile that might accommodate a large nuclear warhead into the Sea of Japan.
“North Korea’s latest successful missile test represents a level of performance never seen before from a North Korean missile,” aerospace engineer John Schilling wrote on 38 North, a website dedicated to North Korea security topics. Despite Hwasong-12’s classification as a medium-range missile, it could have allowed North Korea to test subsystems of ICMBs.
US President Donald Trump’s frequent declarations about “solving” the North Korean “problem” may have forced Pyongyang’s hand into accelerating ICBM development. “The possible testing of ICBM subsystems in this low-key manner may be a North Korean hedge” against the prospect of escalation with US forces, Schilling said.
It could represent significant progress toward the nation’s goal of reaching greater ICBM capabilities, according to various experts. The most recent test was “not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile,” US Pacific Command said in a statement. But David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists estimated the projectile’s range to be 2,800 miles.