KHABAROVSK, July 22 (RIA Novosti) - China is concerned that the development of nuclear weapons by North Korea could lead to South Korea acquiring its own nuclear arsenal, a senior chief military official said on Wednesday.
"North Korea's recent nuclear test and missile launches are of great concern. The development of nuclear weapons by North Korea is unacceptable as it will seriously complicate the situation on the Korean Peninsula and provide good reason for South Korea to acquire its own nuclear weapons," China's chief of the General Staff Gen. Chen Bingde said.
North Korea test launched seven ballistic missiles on July 4 from its eastern coast. The South Korean Defense Ministry said the missiles were Scud-type and had flown up to 500 kilometers (300 miles) before falling into the Sea of Japan. The tests followed an underground nuclear test in May.
North Korea is banned from conducting nuclear tests or launching ballistic missiles under UN Resolution 1718, which was adopted following the country's first nuclear test on October 9, 2006. Pyongyang is also subject to a series of UN sanctions aimed at forcing it to terminate its controversial nuclear program.
The statement by Bingde was delivered shortly before the start of Peace Mission 2009 antiterrorism drills that are due to take place in Russia and China on July 22-26.
The first stage of the exercises - military and political consultations - will be held in Khabarovsk in Russia's Far East, while the second and third phases will take place outside Baichen in northern China.
The first Peace Mission exercises were held in Russia and the eastern Chinese province of Shandong in August 2005, involving warships, aircraft and over 10,000 service personnel including naval infantry and paratroopers.