CHINA bears “great responsibility” for the recent nuclear test in Pyongyang, and must take action to reverse the direction in which the hermit kingdom is heading, says U.S. Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter.
North Korea said it conducted a “higher level” nuclear test explosion on Friday, its fifth atomic test and the second in eight months.
As international criticism of the nuclear test mounts, Carter said at a press conference during an official trip to Norway that he would single out China as bearing the most responsibility for developments in North Korea.
U.S. officials hold on strongly to the opinion that China plays a crucial role in stopping North Korea’s nuclear program, and Carter’s comments reinforce that belief. China is North Korea’s strongest political ally and economic lifeline.
Carter said: “China shares important responsibility for this development and has an important responsibility to reverse it. It’s important that it uses its location, its history and its influence to further the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and not the direction things have been going in.”
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the nuclear test – North Korea’s fifth – as a “brazen breach”. He told reporters on Friday: “This unacceptable act endangers peace and security in the region and is another vivid reminder of the urgent need to strengthen the global nuclear test ban regime.”
Carter said he discussed the “destabilizing and provocative” test with South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo, and agreed that additional sanctions against North Korea should be pursued through the United Nations.
The U.S. is joined by France and the United Kingdom in calling for new sanctions. U.S. ambassador Samantha Power urged the council to vigorously promote implementation of four previous sanctions resolutions “to demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences for its unlawful and dangerous actions”.
“This is more than brazen defiance,” Power told reporters on Friday. “North Korea is seeking to perfect its nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles so they can hold the region and the world hostage under threat of nuclear strikes.”
A spokeswoman from China’s Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, told reporters Friday that it will formally protest the nuclear test with Pyongyang’s ambassador in Beijing.
Additional reporting by Associated Press