U.S. warns China not to export supplies to NorthWhite House senior security officials are emphasizing that China is obligated under UN sanctions to prevent the export of any materials or technologies that are even remotely linked to North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction program.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a pencil or an ounce of gold or a boatload of coal,” said Jon Wolfsthal, the NSC’s senior director for arms control and nonproliferation, at the 4th U.S.-ROK Dialogue at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington on Wednesday.
“Everything that North Korea does we believe is linked or supportive of their weapons of mass destruction program and that trade is to be prohibited,” he told reporters, “unless it can be demonstrated conclusively that it is to support humanitarian purposes.”
His remarks come as Washington and Beijing have been reported to be in cooperation over the probe into the Dandong-based Chinese trading conglomerate Liaoning Hongxiang Group, which is suspected of having shipped to North Korea “dual-use” materials, such as aluminum oxide, which can have both civilian and nuclear-weapons development uses.
Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for U.S. President Barack Obama, likewise said in a briefing on Tuesday evening, “China has an obligation to implement fully the sanctions that have been passed at the UN Security Council, including preventing the export to North Korea of a variety of goods and technologies.”
He was responding to questions regarding the investigation into the Hongxiang Group’s alleged illicit dealings with North Korea.
“When we see concerns about that we do raise them directly with China,” he added, adding that he was not familiar with the Hongxiang case.
He said, “We want China to understand that in the long run, it is going to be less secure if we see this pattern of provocation out of North Korea.”
But also, he pointed out that such provocations oblige the United States to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or Thaad, system to South Korea despite Beijing’s objection.
“There are things that China objects to, like our deployment of the Thaad missile defense system, that we have an obligation to deploy in the face of these provocations,” he said.
However, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in his address to the UN General Assembly Wednesday did not make direct mention of further sanctions on North Korea and simply reiterated its commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula despite Pyongyang’s fifth and latest nuclear test on Sept. 9 being a key issue at the gathering.
“Parties involved in conflicts must renounce the zero-sum mentality, settle dispute through dialogue, address differences through consultation and seek reconciliation with tolerance,” said Li, without specifying names. “The mediation efforts of the international community must be fair and impartial; it should only facilitate the settlement of issues, not invite new problems.”
He went on to name the situation in Syria and the North Korea nuclear issue.
“On the Korean nuclear issue,” said Li, “we should remain committed to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, uphold peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and seek consultation and dialogue based solution so as to maintain the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.”
In a marked contrast, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his address to the General Assembly on Wednesday urged the UN Security Council to show an “unmistakable attitude towards this threat of a new dimension,” as North Korea launched two nuclear tests this year and a series of ballistic missiles.
BY SARAH KIM [email@example.com]