July 12 (UPI) — North Korea‘s most recent test of what it claimed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile may have been conducted to not only warn the United States, but to also drive a wedge between South Korea and China, two countries with burgeoning economic ties.
Ko Jae-hong, a South Korean analyst with government-run Institute for National Security Strategy, said Wednesday the possibility North Korea is trying to obstruct improvements in China-South Korea relations cannot be ruled out, News 1 reported.
“One cannot deny South Korea-China relations is an extremely important factor in the areas of nuclear negotiations, and even the survival of the North Korean regime, during a time of ongoing sanctions,” Ko said. “North Korea can only regard improved South Korea-China relations as a serious threat to the state’s survival.”
The South Korean analyst also said North Korea launched the missile on the Fourth of July, ahead of the G20 summit, in expectations of creating tensions during the first summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
If North Korea seeks to drive a wedge between Seoul and Beijing, Pyongyang could conduct its sixth nuclear test on the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries in August, Ko said.
August is also when the United States and South Korea plan to conduct the annual joint Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises, according to News 1.
Ahead of the drills, Japan-based newspaper Choson Sinbo slammed Moon for making “pro-American” remarks during a speech he gave in Berlin last week, ahead of the G20 summit.
“A favorable response from North Korea cannot be expected,” the newspaper stated on Tuesday.
Moon has called for dialogue with the North under the right circumstances.