South Korean President, Yoon Suk-yeol has warned of an unprecedented joint response with allies if North Korea goes ahead with a nuclear test, and urged China to help dissuade North Korea from pursuing the banned development of nuclear weapons and missiles.
In a Monday, November 28 interview, Yoon called on China, North Korea’s closest ally, to fulfil its responsibilities as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and that not doing so would lead to an influx of military assets from the US to the region.
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China fought beside the North in the 1950-53 Korean War and has backed it economically and diplomatically since, but analysts say Beijing may have limited power, and perhaps little desire, to curb Pyongyang. China says it enforces the UNSC sanctions, which it voted for, but has since called for them to be eased and, along with Russia, blocked U.S.-led attempts to impose new sanctions.
Amid a record year for missile tests, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said this week his country intends to have the world’s most powerful nuclear force. South Korean and U.S. officials say Pyongyang may be preparing to resume testing nuclear weapons for the first time since 2017.
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North Korea’s tests overshadowed multiple gatherings this month of international leaders, including the Group of 20 conferences in Bali, where Yoon pressed Chinese President Xi Jinping to do more to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations. Xi urged Seoul to improve relations with Pyongyang.
“What is sure is that China has the capability to influence North Korea, and China has the responsibility to engage in the process,” Yoon said in his office to Reuters. It was up to Beijing to decide whether it would exert that influence for peace and stability, he added.
North Korea’s actions were leading to increased defense spending in countries around the region, including Japan, and more deployment of U.S. warplanes and ships, Yoon noted.
It is in China’s interest to make its “best efforts” to induce North Korea to denuclearise, he said.
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When asked what South Korea and its allies, the United States and Japan, would do if North Korea conducts a new nuclear test, Yoon said the response “will be something that has not been seen before”, but declined to elaborate on what that would entail.
“It would be extremely unwise for North Korea to conduct a seventh nuclear test,” he told Reuters.