x

Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

Threats won't solve the Korean peninsula situation, China says

North Korea has repeatedly defied the United Nations to conduct nuclear and missile tests, the latest being a mid-range missile fired over Japan last week

Brothers in arms:South Korean and US soldiers are taking part in a combined arms collective training exercise at the US army's Rodriguez shooting range in Pocheon, about 70 km northeast of Seoul near the heavily-fortified border with North Korea on September 19, 2017. Jung Yeon-Je / AFP
Brothers in arms:South Korean and US soldiers are taking part in a combined arms collective training exercise at the US army's Rodriguez shooting range in Pocheon, about 70 km northeast of Seoul near the heavily-fortified border with North Korea on September 19, 2017. Jung Yeon-Je / AFP

Threatening action or rhetoric cannot help resolve the situation on the Korean peninsula, China's foreign ministry said on Tuesday, after US defence secretary Jim Mattis hinted about military options on North Korea.

North Korea has repeatedly defied the United Nations to conduct nuclear and missile tests, the latest being a mid-range missile fired over Japan on Friday, soon after the reclusive nation's sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3.

Asked whether there were any military options the United States could take with North Korea that would not put Seoul at grave risk, Mr Mattis said there were, but declined to give details.

"Developments in the peninsula nuclear issue up to this point prove that, no matter whether it is military threats in words or in action, they cannot promote and advance a resolution," the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Lu Kang, said. "On the contrary, it just adds to tensions and makes achieving the goal of denuclearization on the peninsula appear more complicated and difficult to resolve."

Seoul is within artillery range of North Korea, which is also believed to have a sizeable chemical and biological arsenal beyond nuclear and conventional weapons.

Any conflict on the Korean peninsula could lead to bloodshed not seen since the 1950-53 Korean War, which took the lives of more than 50,000 Americans and millions of Koreans and ended in an armed truce, not a peace treaty.

Military options available to the United States range from non-lethal actions such as a naval blockade to enforce sanctions to waging cyber attacks and positioning new US weaponry in South Korea, where the United States has 28,500 troops.

South Korea and the United States, and separately Russia together with China, started military drills on Monday, in a show of force against North Korea.

The Korean peninsula issue must be resolved peacefully, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi stressed during a meeting with his Russian counterpart at the United Nations.

The white House said Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump had spoken by telephone about keeping pressure on North Korea using economic sanctions imposed through the United Nations.