World / Asia-Pacific

DPRK vows 'substantial' response

By ZHOU WA (China Daily) Updated: 2013-01-28 02:16

Regional tensions 'raising possibility of new arms race in Northeast Asia'

Pyongyang's top leader vowed to take substantial and high-profile state measures in response to new UN sanctions, its state media said on Sunday, as Tokyo launched intelligence satellites before Seoul's rocket launch next week.

Actions by parties in Northeast Asia may trigger a regional arms race and lead to the progressive escalation of tension on the Korean Peninsula, observers said.

At a consultative meeting on Saturday, Democratic People's Republic of Korea leader Kim Jong-un discussed the latest situation on the peninsula with defense and foreign affairs officials and reiterated taking "powerful physical countermeasures" against the new UN resolution, the Korean Central News Agency said.

The agency said a grave situation was created on the Korean Peninsula due to the approval of the new resolution of the United Nations Security Council, and it reiterated that the rocket launch on Dec 12 was exercise of legitimate right of a sovereign state.

It also became clear that there can be no denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula before the world has been denuclearized, the agency said.

The Security Council passed a resolution on Tuesday to expand sanctions against more DPRK aerospace institutions and technologists because of Pyongyang's rocket launch in December.

Pyongyang responded with fiery words, such as to end the Six-Party Talks and bolster its self-defense capability, including a nuclear deterrent, saying it will launch long-range rockets and conduct the third nuclear test, targeting the US.

It also threatened to attack the Republic of Korea if Seoul joins a new round of UN sanctions against Pyongyang.

Meanwhile, Japan launched an operational radar satellite and an experimental optical probe into orbit on Sunday, Kyodo News Agency reported.

The agency said the two are among the intelligence satellites targeting DPRK's rocket launches.

The latest Japanese launch underscores Japan's longstanding wariness of Pyongyang's abilities and intentions, although it was in the planning stages long before the escalated tensions with the DPRK, the Associated Press said.

Japan feels threatened by the tension on the Korean Peninsula, said Wang Junsheng, a researcher of East Asia studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Regarding the DPRK's nuclear program, Tokyo has more worries than Beijing and Seoul, because Pyongyang-Beijing ties are better and people from the DPRK and the Republic of Korea belong to the same ethnic group, Wang said.

"Pyongyang's fierce rhetoric about its nuclear plan gives Japan an excuse to strengthen its military system," said Jin Canrong, a professor of global studies at Renmin University of China.

Tokyo has long been seeking opportunities to obtain a powerful political position and develop its military system after World War II, although its right of military development is limited, Jin added.

Japan and its allies believe the DPRK rocket launches are disguised tests of long-range missiles. Japan is especially worried because its main islands are already within range of the DPRK missiles.

Japan began launching spy satellites in 2003.

Following Japan's satellite launch, the ROK planned to launch its first space rocket named Naro on Wednesday, Yonhap News Agency reported.

"There is the possibility of a new arms race in Northeast Asia, which will add further tension to the region," Jin said.

At this sensitive moment, a small move by one country may be misinterpreted by others and push the situation out of control, Wang said, calling for calm and reasonable actions by all regional players.

In another development, the US, ROK and Japan will hold an annual defense meeting in Tokyo from Wednesday to Thursday to discuss the DPRK's nuclear programs and other issues of cooperation, Yonhap cited an ROK official as saying.

Deputy minister-level officials from the defense ministries of the three countries will take part in the two-day "security dialogue" meeting, according to the agency.

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