China warns of N Korea conflict ‘at any moment’
BEIJINGA conflict over North Korea could break out “at any moment,” China said April 14, warning there would be no winner in any war as tensions soar with the United States.
On the same day, the Kremlin said it’s watching the developments around North Korea with “great concern.”
China’s sharp language came after U.S. President Donald Trump said the North Korea problem “will be taken care of,” as speculation mounts the reclusive state could be preparing another nuclear or missile test.
Trump has sent an aircraft carrier-led strike group to the Korean peninsula to press his point, one of a series of measures that indicate his willingness to shake up foreign policy strategy.
“Lately, tensions have risen... and one has the feeling that a conflict could break out at any moment,” Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said.
“If a war occurs, the result is a situation in which everybody loses and there can be no winner.”
Whichever side provoked a conflict “must assume the historic responsibility and pay the corresponding price,” he said in a joint press conference with his visiting French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault.
Wang’s comments mirrored a warning from the North Korean foreign ministry’s Institute for Disarmament and Peace which said “thermo-nuclear war may break out any moment.”
“The U.S. introduces into the Korean peninsula, the world’s biggest hotspot, huge nuclear strategic assets... pushing the situation there to the brink of a war,” it said according to the North’s official news agency KCNA.
Trump also flexed his military muscle last week by ordering cruise missile strikes on a Syrian airbase the U.S. believed was the origin of a chemical weapons attack on civilians in a northern Syria town.
And the U.S. military on April 13 dropped the biggest non-nuclear bomb it possesses on Afghanistan, targeting a complex used by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), in another move seen as a warning is not afraid to use force.
Meanwhile, Russia on April 14 called for “restraint” over the situation in North Korea, warning against any “provocative steps” after Washington said it was assessing military options in response to the country’s weapons programs.
“Moscow is watching with great concern the escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.
“We call for restraint from all countries and warn countries not to pursue actions that could consist of any provocative steps,” he added.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was set to travel to South Korea on April 16 in what his aides said was a sign of the U.S. commitment to its ally in the face of rising tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program.