May 24 (UPI) -- China is within striking distance of North Korea's nuclear-tipped missiles, a North Korean lecturer told a group of state officials about a week after the test of the midrange missile Hwasong-12.
The statement is an unusual expression of overt hostility from Pyongyang toward its most important economic partner.
Multiple sources in North Korea's Yanggang Province told Radio Free Asia the statement was made on Saturday during a lecture, before an audience of state "subcontractors," at the meeting room of the Yanggang Provincial Party Committee.
"The recently developed and successfully launched new missile Hwasong-12 could definitely be equipped with nuclear weapons and hit all targets in China," one of RFA's sources said, quoting a statement from the lecturer at the meeting.
Other sources said the meeting takes place on a quarterly basis, and state officials from "the center" travel to the provinces to deliver lectures on "trends" affecting North Korea's neighbors.
The "center" refers to the central leadership of Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang.
A second source in the same province identified the lecturer as an agent of the propaganda division of the central committee of the Korean Workers' Party.
According to the source, the North Korean propaganda specialist said that because of the "success" of the Hwasong-12, "China is now completely trapped by our network of missiles."
There is "no need to fear China's sanctions against North Korea," the lecturer had said, according to RFA's source.
A third source confirmed the speech, and said North Korean state media is openly criticizing China.
"China knows well, that these tough expressions are being used to target them," the source said.
Concern is growing in the United States after North Korea claimed the Hwasong-12 could strike U.S. assets in Hawaii and Alaska.
Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said at a U.S. Senate hearing North Korea is working on a nuclear device that can be installed on a ballistic missile.
"If left on its current trajectory, the regime will ultimately succeed in fielding a nuclear-armed missile capable of threatening the United States homeland," Stewart said Tuesday.