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China media urge N. Korea to change 'self-destructive course'

All Headlines 10:26 March 04, 2016

BEIJING, March 4 (Yonhap) -- A state-run Chinese newspaper called on North Korea to refrain from taking a "self-destructive course" on Friday as the country's leader ordered his military to be ready to use its atomic weapons at anytime.

The order by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un marked a further escalation of tensions, a day after the North fired short-range projectiles into the East Sea in an apparent show of defiance following the U.N. Security Council's adoption of new sanctions against Pyongyang over its fourth nuclear test and rocket launch.

The isolationist country has been pursuing a nuclear weapons program in the face of strong international pressure. Pyongyang conducted it first nuclear test in 2006. This was followed by tests carried out in 2009 and 2013, with the latest taking place on Jan. 6 of this year.

During his inspection of a missile unit, Kim stressed "the need to get the nuclear warheads deployed for national defense always on standby so as to be fired any moment," according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

In an editorial, the state-run China Daily newspaper expressed its concern of the angry reaction from North Korea over the new U.N. sanctions.

North Korea's launch of short-range projectiles on Thursday "may well be the start of an unpredictable spiral," the editorial reads.

"But that is something Pyongyang should make every effort to avoid, as it would be a self-destructive course," it said.

"Pyongyang does not have many options under the new U.N. resolution. But it does have a very easy way out: Let go of its nuclear-missile program. Sit down and talk," it said.

The short-range projectiles were believed to be fired from North Korea's new 300mm multiple launch rocket systems with a range of up to 200 kilometers, South Korean defense officials said.

The latest U.N. resolution on North Korea is being described as the toughest sanctions ever, but some analysts pointed out that it has some key loopholes.

One of the potential loopholes is a provision that would allow North Korea to continue exports of coal and iron ore if such transactions are for "livelihood purposes."

Winning China's cooperation is key to ensuring the effectiveness of U.N. sanctions against North Korea because China accounts for nearly 90 percent of the North's foreign trade.

Still, China is unlikely to vigorously implement sanctions on North Korea because a sudden collapse of the regime could spark a refugee crisis at its border and lead to a pro-U.S., democratic Korea on its doorstep, analysts say.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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