The Republic of Korea (ROK) has threatened to impose new sanctions on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), hours after the DPRK test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
ROK President Moon Jae-in ordered unilateral sanctions to be considered as part of a "stern response" to Pyongyang's latest missile launch, reported Yonhap citing the president’s office.
The newly-elected president also threatened to deploy an additional four THAAD launchers as part of a set of tough countermeasures.
ROK President Moon Jae-in. /Xinhua Photo
Two THAAD interceptor launchers are in operation at a former golf course in Seongju, some 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, with four others stored at a nearby US military base.
Meanwhile, the White House said President Donald Trump intends to sign a bill passed overwhelmingly by Congress that imposes fresh sanctions on the DPRK, as well as Russia and Iran.
The Pentagon and Seoul said the DPRK fired an ICBM from Mupyong-ni, an arms plant close to the country's northern border. Experts said the ICBM launch was capable of striking Los Angeles and other US cities.
The United States and South Korea responded to the missile test by staging a joint missile exercise.
Chinse Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Saturday that China opposes any missile launch by the DPRK and urges all parties to stop activities that escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
"China is closely watching the situation," Geng told reporters in a brief statement.
"We urge the DPRK to follow the UN resolutions and stop any actions to escalate the regional tension."
"We also hope other countries act cautiously and keep regional peace and stability," he added.
Earlier this month, President Xi Jinping spoke with President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, hoping to de-escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
President Xi Jinping meets with his US counterpart Donald Trump on the sidelines of G20 summit, in Hamburg, Germany on July 8, 2017. /Xinhua Photo
China has repeatedly condemned the DPRK’s nuclear and missile tests as they violate UN resolutions. Beijing has expressed concern that heightened tensions could lead to disastrous consequences, and urged all parties to refrain from provocative actions as no party will emerge victorious if a war breaks out.
China has proposed the “dual track" and “suspension for suspension” approaches, aiming to ease the growing tension and bring all sides back to the negotiating table.
According to the China-proposed mechanism, the DPRK would suspend its nuclear activity in exchange for the US and ROK halting large-scale military drills, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi explained.
UN chief condemns the missile launch
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned Friday's launch of a "ballistic missile of possible intercontinental range," his spokesman said in a statement.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. /Reuters Photo
In March, the UN Security Council unanimously approved the toughest sanctions on the DPRK in two decades.
They included mandatory inspections of cargo leaving and entering the DPRK by land, sea or air; a ban on all sales or transfers of small arms and light weapons to Pyongyang; and expulsion of diplomats from the DPRK who engage in “illicit activities.”