China set for showdown at border with North Korea

China set for showdown at border with North Korea

"The speed of North Korea's ICBM missile development is faster than the South Korean Defense Ministry expected", said lawmaker Lee Cheol-hee, of the leftist Minjoo party, who attended an intelligence committee briefing after the missile test.

The new sanctions could affect companies from third countries, which trade with North Korea, and especially China, the main trading partner of the isolated regime of Kim Jong-un.

Pyongyang conducted on July 4 an unprecedented test of a missile capable of hitting the U.S.

It comes amid reports of a new nuclear test scheduled for this week in North Korea.

Despite the People's Liberation Army's efforts to bolster defences, a former United States military attache in Beijing said China's military remains ill-prepared for a North Korean operation.

"This test, and its impact on our assessments, highlight the threat that North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs pose to the United States, to our allies in the region, and to the whole world".

A second USA official familiar with the science of ICBMs said, also on the condition of anonymity, that North Korea still has not demonstrated the ability to design and build nuclear warheads small enough to be delivered on its long-range missiles and tough enough to survive re-entry into the atmosphere.

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Also at the conference, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, was asked if North Korea is now a member of the club of nations with nuclear weapons.

The South Korean government, which is actively trying to engage the regime in Pyongyang, has declined to call the most recent test a success.

Pyongyang's recent successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile - the first by the North - has created even more urgency as the US seeks to stop North Korea before it can master the complex process of putting a nuclear warhead atop a missile capable of hitting the United States.

Haley told reporters she was pleased with the initial response from China on a United States proposal for new United Nations sanctions and said China had showed 'seriousness'.

Coats said: "Well, they've got some work to do to, I think, get through the club door, but they are very persistent in achieving that goal and we see a lot of research probably gained by each launch that they do whether it fails or succeeds". China's ambassador was quoted to have said that they are making progress on the resolution, which is to be submitted to the UN Security Council.

Information for this article was contributed by Ellen Nakashima, Anna Fifield and Joby Warrick of The Washington Post and by Edith M. Lederer of The Associated Press.

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