China is actively assisting North Korea’s missile program, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the House Armed Services Committee today. As the Guardian reports,
“I’m sure there’s been some help coming from China. I don’t know, you know, the exact extent of that,” Panetta told members of the House armed services committee when asked whether China had been supporting North Korea’s missile programme through “trade and technology exchanges.” . . .On Wednesday, Pyongyang said it was ready to retaliate in the face of widespread condemnation of the failed launch, increasing the likelihood it will go ahead with a third nuclear test. . . .
On Thursday, South Korea said it had added a cruise missile to its arsenal that could hit anywhere in the North.
There have been a number of missile tests in Asia this month. India successfully tested a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile capable of dropping a nuclear warhead almost anywhere in China.China, we know, has long supported the regime in North Korea. Facing the facts of a potential arms race and its one solid ally Myanmar cozying up to Japan and the West, China may find North Korea to be a more important geostrategic tool. But Pyongyang is unpopular (to say the least) with China’s other neighbors, and closer ties will feed distrust of China throughout the region. It’s up to Beijing to decide whether North Korea is worth the trouble.