After North Korea’s failed rocket launch earlier this year and China’s subsequent backing of a UN statement calling for harsher consequences if another launch is attempted, the New York Times reports North Korea plans to try to launch a long-range rocket later this year:
The launching, which North Korea said would take place between Dec. 10 and Dec. 22, is likely to prompt international condemnations and heighten tensions with Washington and its allies. Critics consider North Korea’s launching of a Unha-3 rocket a cover for testing technology for intercontinental ballistic missiles that could eventually be used to carry nuclear weapons.
Saturday’s announcement came at a delicate time in the region. South Korea is gearing up for a presidential election on Dec. 19, and Japan plans parliamentary elections on Dec. 16. In Washington, President Obama will begin his second term in January.
The North’s announcement also came a day after Mr. Kim met a delegation sent by China’s new leader, Xi Jinping. South Korean news media had speculated that one of the missions of the Chinese delegation might be to try to persuade Pyongyang to refrain from launching a rocket again, with satellite photos appearing to indicate launching preparations.
If so, North Korea’s apparent rejection would be particularly brazen, given that Mr. Xi has just been elevated. China is North Korea’s only real ally, and a source of much-needed aid and trade, but Pyongyang has ignored some of China’s requests in the past.
Pyongyang’s plans come amid recent tensions between North Korea and China due to failed business ventures and the detention of Chinese fisherman. China has expressed ‘concern’ over Pyongyang’s satellite, from AFP:
“China … expressed its concern about the satellite launch plan of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, saying it hopes relevant parties can act in a way
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