Russia and China have called for North Korea, South Korea, and the US to sign a Chinese de-escalation plan designed to defuse tensions around Pyongyang’s missile programme. The plan would require North Korea to suspend its ballistic missile programme and the US and South Korea to simultaneously implicate a moratorium on large-scale missile exercises.

This follows North Korea’s claims they have carried about a successful test of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which would ultimately enable them to strike mainland USA. Analysts have said that the missiles may have the range to reach Alaska but not other parts of the continental US.

North Korea has justified its actions by maintaining their claim that the US poses a threat to their security, and pointed to the US troops which line the border between North and South Korea. Tensions rise every spring at the start of joint military drills on the part of the US and South Korea, which North Korea insists are a rehearsal for invasion and subsequently that they have as much of a right as any other state to develop a nuclear deterrent.

Previously, Trump has depended on China to persuade North Korea to abandon its missile and nuclear programmes, with diplomatic pressure or the threat of removal of aid. However China has not yet shown any sign of doing this. Trump has also threatened force as a response to serious provocation, but has said that a conversation with North Korea would not be impossible ‘under the right conditions’.