China ‘working on’ persuading NKorea
Beijing, April 24, 2013
The top US military officer said on Wednesday Chinese leaders had assured him that they were working on persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programme.
China is North Korea's main diplomatic and financial backer and fought alongside the North in the 1950-53 Korean War. It has always been reluctant to apply pressure on the North, fearing a flood of refugees into China if North Korea were to collapse.
But in recent months, China has begun to express impatience with North Korea and its threats of nuclear war, and with its 30-year-old leader, Kim Jong-un, grandson of state founder Kim Il-Sung.
"I will leave here with the belief that the Chinese leadership is as concerned as we are with North Korea's march toward nuclearisation and ballistic missile technology, and they have given us an assurance that they are working on it, as we are," US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey told reporters on the last day of a trip to China.
"So, we think there's still time for North Korea's leaders to back away from further provocations and we certainly hope they take the opportunity to do so," he said.
North Korea stepped up defiance of UN Security Council resolutions in December when it launched a rocket that it said had put a scientific satellite in orbit. Critics said the launch was aimed at developing the kind of technology needed to deliver a nuclear warhead mounted on a long-range missile.
That was followed in February by the North's third test of a nuclear weapon. That triggered new UN sanctions in March which in turn led to a dramatic intensification of the North's threats against South Korea and the United States.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has stressed China's importance in influencing North Korea and made that point in talks in Beijing this month.
Dempsey said "provocations have been somewhat prolonged" since Kim Jong-un took over as leader of North Korea soon after the late 2011 death of his father, Kim Jong-il.
"What that means is that I think the risk of miscalculation is higher, and I think the risk of escalation is higher," he said.
The United States was able to defend itself if North Korea launches a nuclear weapon, Dempsey said.
"Our military posture is one of deterrence and preparedness," he said. "And if they were to launch, we do have the capability to defend ourselves, our people, our facilities, and we've been very clear about that."
After weeks of tension, the North has in recent days begun to at least talk about dialogue in response to calls for talks from both the United States and South Korea.
On Tuesday, North Korea insisted that it be recognised as a nuclear weapons state before talks could begin, a demand the United States dismissed as "neither realistic nor acceptable". - Reuters
More INTERNATIONAL NEWS Stories
- Saudi sentences three to death for 2003 bombing
- First bitcoin machine opens in UK
- US sanctions will boomerang, warns Russia
- China plans $50bn bank to fund projects
- Sony to sell Tokyo 'birthplace'
- Obama orders sanctions over Russian moves
- Crimea parliament votes to join Russia
- Arab League to be revamped
- 'Upskirting' is legal: Massachusetts court
- Singapore probes 'unnatural' death of bitcoin trader
- Onus on world powers for Syria war crimes: UN
- US, Russia set for talks on Ukraine crisis
- Brent oil drops below $109
- Services outshine manufacturing, pushing up jobs
- Bitcoin bank shut down after hacker attack
- India to kick off world's biggest poll on April 7
- China signals focus on reforms
- Hundreds ready for bitcoin exchange class action
- Space taxi, Jupiter mission in Obama budget
- Putin: Use of force last resort in Ukraine
- Powers to boost Lebanese military, economy
- Egypt bans Hamas activities in Egypt
- Putin ends army exercise, markets rally
- Russia has violated international law: Obama
- Russian markets hit as Putin tightens grip on Crimea
- Iran nuclear deal 'being implemented as planned'
- Global factory growth stumbles as demand falters
- Obama warns of 'fallout' for Israel if peace effort fails
- Ukraine mobilises after Putin's 'declaration of war'
- Oil jumps $2 over Ukraine tension