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Politics Monitor

Missile Provocation: Pyongyang Accuses Beijing

A South Koran soldier (R) stands next to a television screen showing a news broadcast with file footage of a North Korean missile test, at a railway station in Seoul on July 22, 2023. - North Korea has fired "several cruise missiles" into the Yellow Sea between China and the Korean peninsula, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said on July 2023. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP)

North Korea fired new missiles on Friday July 21, while Western countries pointed to the UN’s cloudy role of China regarding Pyongyang. According to them, Beijing would secretly deliver large quantities of oil to its small neighbor, yet targeted by sanctions relating to its armament program.

Pyongyang fired “several cruise missiles” into the Yellow Sea between the Korean peninsula and China on Saturday, the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul said.

The missile fire took place on Saturday around 4 a.m. local time (7 p.m. GMT Friday), according to the same source. They come three days after those of two ballistic missiles, this time in the Sea of Japan, on the opposite east coast.

Relations between the two Koreas are at an all-time low, with diplomacy stalled and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un calling for an accelerated arms race, including tactical nuclear weapons.

North Korea has been subject to international sanctions since 2006, which were increased three times in 2017.

Western concerns about China’s role

The measures taken that year unanimously by the Security Council to compel Pyongyang to interrupt its nuclear and ballistic weapons programs notably limit oil imports from North Korea.

According to a letter seen by AFP on Friday, the United States, the European Union, South Korea and other countries have requested China’s “assistance” to prevent North Korea from circumventing UN oil sanctions by using Chinese territorial waters.

They seek assistance from their Chinese counterpart Zhang Jun, saying they are particularly “worried about the repeated presence of multiple tankers” identified by the UN Sanctions Panel of Experts “using your national waters in Sansha Bay as a haven to facilitate their trade in sanctioned petroleum products” to North Korea.

In May 2022, China and Russia vetoed a resolution imposing new sanctions on Pyongyang, and no Council resolution or statement has been adopted since.

The United States in particular regularly accuses Beijing and Moscow of serving as a “shield” for the North Korean regime and of encouraging new firings by preventing a united response from the Council.

This article is originally published on icibeyrouth.com

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