- China’s Nuclear Get-Out Clause Over Defence of North Korea
by Minnie Chan, http://www.scmp.com/frontpage/hk
China is not obliged to help defend North Korea from military attack if the reclusive state developed nuclear weapons, according to Chinese diplomatic and military observers. The assessment comes as senior officials in Washington warn of a strike against the Pyongyang regime.
China and North Korea signed a mutual aid and cooperation treaty in 1961 as they sought to mount a united front against Western powers. It specifies that if one of the parties comes under armed attack, the other should render immediate assistance, including military support.
But the treaty also says both nations should safeguard peace and security. For China, North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons in violation of the United Nations treaty on non-proliferation could amount to a breach of their pact, leaving Beijing with no obligation to lend a hand, observers said.
China could also have a get-out clause if any US military intervention was not deemed an armed attack. “It’s hard to say how China would assist North Korea militarily in case of war, since North Korea is developing nuclear weapons, an act that might have already breached the treaty between the two nations,” said Li Jie, a retired Chinese naval colonel.