Focus Shifts to China as North Korea Tensions Escalate; North and South Korea Exchange Artillery Fire
After the discovery of thousands of nuclear centrifuges at a nuclear facility in North Korea, Washington is raising the pressure on Beijing to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions. From Reuters:
The impoverished and isolated North depends heavily on its only major ally for economic and diplomatic support and its leader Kim Jong-il has visited China twice this year, in part to gain backing for the anointment of his son to eventually take over the family dynasty.
Those ties have become a sore-point with Washington after revelations that North Korea appears to have made big steps toward enriching uranium — one pathway to making the fissile material needed for nuclear weapons — possibly using technology that passed through or even originated in China.
A U.S. academic, Siegfried Hecker, who recently visited North Korea, said at the weekend that he had seen more than a thousand centrifuges for enriching uranium during a tour of the North’s Yongbyon nuclear complex.
Tuesday morning, North Korea fired artillery shells onto a South Korean island, provoking an exchange of fire. Few details are available about the incident. Almost immediately after the incident was reported, Sina set up a special news page (in Chinese, h/t @goldkorn). See also a report from AP.
Update: South Korean TV has footage of the attack:
See also “Fire Over Korea” from Evan Osnos.