China said on Tuesday it was taking active steps to encourage North Korea to return to talks on ending its nuclear program and was against the option of war a day after Pyongyang said it had conducted a nuclear test.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a news briefing that North Korea had ignored international opinion in carrying out the test, which he said had damaged bilateral relations.
He said the UN Security Council should take action against North Korea but that China was still considering what that action should be. China had not ruled out the possibility of UN Sanctions, he added.
“We think the UN Security Council should take appropriate action,” he said.
But when asked whether China would be willing to consider invoking Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which could lay the groundwork for military force, in any UN Sanctions, Liu said: “China absolutely opposes war to resolve the Korean peninsula issue.”
China is a neighbor and traditional Communist ally of North Korea, but it denounced the nuclear test in unusually strong language on Monday and demanded Pyongyang stop any action that could make matters worse.
Liu said China had always opposed the nuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
“This stance hasn’t changed ... The DPRK (North Korea) ignored the widespread opposition of the international community in brazenly conducting a nuclear test and China resolutely opposes this.”
Liu said China would continue to seek to develop ties with North Korea, but added that relations must be beneficial to regional peace and security. He added that there had been no sign of atmospheric pollution from the test.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said on Tuesday North Korea was willing to end its nuclear program and return to six-party talks if the United States “reciprocates.”
The United States circulated a draft UN resolution late Monday that would condemn North Korea's nuclear test and impose tough sanctions on the reclusive communist nation for Pyongyang's "flagrant disregard" of the Security Council's appeal not to detonate a device.
The draft, obtained by The Associated Press, incorporates proposals circulated by the US earlier in the day to prohibit all trade in military and luxury goods and crack down on illegal financial dealings.
It adds new calls from Japan to ban all countries from allowing any North Korean ships in their ports or any North Korean aircraft from taking off or landing in their territory if they carried arms, nuclear or ballistic missile-related material or luxury goods.
The US ambassador to South Korea said Tuesday that North Korea's nuclear test would make the possibility of direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang more difficult, a news report said, indicating the US is unlikely to meet a key North Korean demand.
Alexander Vershbow also told South Korean reporters the North's test shows that the nation isn't interested in US proposals, Yonhap news agency reported.