North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un, who at the time declared his country had the ability to strike Seoul and the US whenever it pleased.
China on Wednesday called on North Korea to suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for the US and South Korea halting military wargames, to avoid what it called a “head-on collision.”
“To defuse the looming crisis on the (Korean) peninsula, China proposes that as a first step, the DPRK may suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for the halt of the large-scale US-ROK exercises,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, using the acronyms for the two Koreas.
“The two sides are like two accelerating trains coming toward each other with neither side willing to give way,” Wang said at a press conference on the sidelines of China’s annual parliament session.
“The question is: are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision? Our priority now is to flash the red light and apply the brakes on both trains.”
A cascade of events have led to a dramatic spike in tensions in northeast Asia.
Pyongyang blasted at least four missiles across the ocean toward Japan on Monday, and three of the rockets splashed down into waters within Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
Seoul and Washington have begun annual joint military exercises that always infuriate Pyongyang, and the US has said it has started deploying an anti-missile system directed at North Korea but which Beijing has taken as a threat to its own defence interests.
“This ‘suspension for suspension’ can help us break out of the security dilemma and bring the parties back to the negotiating table,” Wang said of his proposal.