- As China’s Xi lays out $900bn Silk Road vision amid claims of empire-building
North Korea has claimed that the missile it tested on Sunday was a new type of rocket capable of carrying a large nuclear warhead.
The missile, launched at a steep angle, reached an altitude of 2,000km (1,242 miles) and travelled about 700km, landing in the sea west of Japan.
North Korea said on Monday it was a test of the abilities of a “newly developed ballistic rocket”.
South Korea’s military said it could not yet verify the North’s claims.
But it said the North’s missiles did appear to be able to leave and re-enter the atmosphere, which is crucial to developing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the Yonhap news agency reported.
Repeated missile tests by the North this year – not all of them successful but all a breach of UN sanctions – have sparked international alarm and raised tensions with the US.
The US and Japan have called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday.
North Korea’s KCNA state news agency said on Monday that the test of a “newly developed mid/long-range strategic ballistic rocket, Hwasong-12” had gone to plan.
“The test-fire aimed at verifying the tactical and technological specifications of the newly developed ballistic rocket capable of carrying a large-size heavy nuclear warhead,” it said.
North Korea is known to be developing both nuclear weapons – it has conducted five nuclear tests – and the missiles capable of delivering those weapons to their target. Both are in defiance of UN sanctions.
But it remains unclear whether it has the ability to make the weapons small enough to be mounted on a rocket, and it has never tested a long-range ICBM which could reach, for example, the US.
ICBM’s are considered to have a range of about 6,000km, but analysts believe the missile tested on Sunday would have travelled about 4,000km if it had been fired at a standard trajectory rather than upwards.
The KCNA report said that, as ever, the test had been overseen by the North’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.
It said he had told the scientists and technicians involved “not to be complacent” but to build further “nuclear weapons and methods of delivery” until the US made “the right choice”.
The White House has mooted talks with North Korea under the right conditions, which would include a halt in missile tests.
But in a statement on Sunday, it said Pyongyang had been “a flagrant menace for far too long” and that this “latest provocation” should “serve as a call for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions”.
The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said on Sunday that until Mr Kim meets the US conditions, “we’re not sitting down with him”.
South Korea’s newly elected President Moon Jae-in, who is seeking deeper engagement with the North, said it was a “reckless provocation” while China, North Korea’s only real ally, is urging restraint.
In the meantime, Chinese president Xi Jinping has kicked off a two-day showcase of what some call the most ambitious development project ever by comparing his country to a peace-loving explorer set on transforming the world with treasure-laden galleys not warships, guns or swords.
Speaking at the start of a high-profile summit about China’s “Belt and Road initiative”, Xi hailed his multi-billion dollar infrastructure crusade as a means of building a modern-day version of the ancient Silk Road and a new “golden age” of globalisation.
“The glory of the ancient Silk Road shows that geographical dispersion is not insurmountable,” he told the 29 heads of state who have gathered in Beijing for the event, including Russian president Vladimir Putin, and Turkey’s Recep Erdoğan.
However, as Xi took to the stage his signature foreign policy initiative faced a backlash with India launching a scathing attack on the $900bn Chinese plan and announcing it would boycott proceedings. According to the the Times of India, New Delhi believed the scheme was “little more than a colonial enterprise [that would leave] debt and broken communities in its wake”.
Xi told a different story on Sunday, painting what he called his “project of the century” as a bold and inclusive attempt to kickstart a new era of globalisation.
In a 45-minute address, the Communist party chief vowed to throw his weight behind a global construction spree stretching all the way from Asia, across Europe and Africa, to the Americas.
“The Belt and Road initiative is rooted in the ancient Silk Road … but it is also open to all other countries,” the Chinese leader said, promising to pump $125bn into the scheme.
Just as Chinese traders and explorers such as Zheng He, a Ming dynasty navigator, went out into the world in peace, so too would China now seek to engage with other countries. “These pioneers won their place in history not as conquerors with warships guns or swords but are remembered as friendly emissaries leading caravans of camels and sailing treasure-loaded ships,” Xi said.
“This part of history shows that civilisation thrives with openness and that nations prosper from exchange.”
BBC with additional report from Guardian