North Korea said it successfully launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, on Tuesday.
The North Korean government considers the launch an important step in developing its nuclear weapons and missile programs. The government continues to test missiles although there have been repeated warnings from other countries.
The North Korean military launched the missile from an airport near its border with China. It landed in the sea in an area claimed by Japan as its special economic zone.
The launch shocked the Japanese government. It raised questions about China’s ability to influence North Korea.
North Korea claims the missile can “hit anywhere in the world.”
Pressure on China increases
The launch puts pressure on the Chinese government to put stronger sanctions on North Korea. But how China will answer is still unclear.
China’s Foreign Ministry representative Geng Shuang spoke at a press conference Tuesday. He said China has made many efforts to solve the problems on the Korean Peninsula.
He added that China plays an important part in the relations between North Korea and other Asian nations. He also asked all parties involved to use restraint to solve the dispute quickly.
Geng said China urges North Korea not to violate U.N. Security Council resolutions. He asks the country to “create necessary conditions for resuming dialogue and negotiations.”
United States President Donald Trump has been trying to get China to do more to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. But late last month, Trump said that while he “greatly appreciated” China’s help, “It has not worked out.”
He added, “At least I know China tried!”
On Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the latest missile test shows that the threat from North Korea has increased.
Later this week, the U.S., South Korea and Japan will hold a meeting, while the leaders of those countries attend the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
After the missile launch on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would work with Chinese President Xi Jinping to halt North Korea’s weapons program.
Putin proposed a plan in which North Korea freezes its nuclear program while the United States and South Korea freeze their large joint military exercises.
Cheng Xiaohe is a political science professor at Beijing's Renmin University. He said it is unclear whether the United Nations will answer by only condemning the launch or by starting new sanctions.
Cheng said if new sanctions are put in place, it could include a ban on tourism to North Korea and North Korean produced petrochemical products.
“All of these are possible [actions] the Security Council could discuss,” he said.
Cheng noted that more research about the launch is needed. During the test, the missile climbed 2,800 kilometers before crashing into the sea.
David Wright is a physicist and co-director of the Union of Concerned Scientists. He wrote on a website that if reports are correct, the same missile could fly as far as about 6,700 kilometers on a normal flight path.
He said the missile could not “reach the lower 48 states or the large islands of Hawaii.”
However, he said it could reach Alaska.
I’m Pete Musto.
Bill Ide, Saibal Dasgupta and Joyce Huang first reported this story for VOA News. Pete Musto adapted it for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.
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Words in This Story
intercontinental – adj. capable of traveling from one continent to another
ballistic missile – n. a weapon that is shot through the sky over a great distance and then falls to the ground and explodes
sanction(s) – n. an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, or by not allowing economic aid for that country
resuming – v. beginning again after stopping
dialogue – n. a discussion or series of discussions that two groups or countries have in order to end a disagreement
negotiation(s) – n. a formal discussion between people who are trying to reach an agreement
appreciated – v. to understand the worth or importance of something or someone
summit – n. a meeting or series of meetings between the leaders of two or more governments
tourism – n. the activity of traveling to a place for pleasure
petrochemical - n. a chemical that is made from petroleum or natural gas