Friday, May 13, 2005

China Would "React Strongly" To A North Korea Nuke Test

Wang Jiarui, head of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee's International Department, told a senior Japanese opposition lawmaker on Thursday that China would ''react strongly'' to a North Korean nuclear weapons test. Yoshito Sengoku, chairman of the Policy Research Committee of the Democratic Party of Japan, told reporters that Wang made the comment, which implies China's opposition to such a test, during a meeting in Beijing. ''If such a thing happens, China will react strongly through diplomatic routes,'' Sengoku quoted Wang as saying. ''There is no country that does not oppose North Korea's nuclear tests.'' Sengoku also said that Wang told him that he does not expect the situation ''to come to that.'' The comment comes amid worries that North Korea may carry out a nuclear weapons test as early as June. North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency also reported Wednesday that the country has finished extracting 8,000 spent fuel rods from a nuclear power plant, a possible step for producing plutonium for more nuclear weapons. Sengoku said he asked about China's knowledge of the extent of North Korea's nuclear capabilities, but Wang did not respond. Wang, meanwhile, told Sengoku that Japan should urge the United States to explain to North Korea its comment that the country is an ''outpost of tyranny,'' according to Sengoku. Pyongyang has demanded an apology for the remark. Wang also implied that China favors direct contact between North Korea and the United States in some form to restart the six-way talks on resolving the North Korean nuclear impasse, according to Sengoku. ''If such a contact is realized, there will be no excuse for North Korea not to return to the six-way talks, and the United States does not have anything to lose'' from such contact, Sengoku quoted Wang as saying. North Korea said Sunday it wants direct confirmation from the United States that it would recognize the country as a sovereign state and hold bilateral talks within the framework of the six-party talks. According to the dispatch by the official Korean Central News Agency, quoting a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Pyongyang wants ''a simple working procedure for confirming the U.S. stance'' before deciding whether to return to the negotiations. The six-party talks aimed at resolving the North Korean nuclear impasse have been stalled for almost a year. The talks involve the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia. The six parties have held three rounds of talks since August 2003, but North Korea refused to attend the fourth round in late September, blaming the United States for taking what it calls a ''hostile'' attitude toward the North. Sengoku said he also asked Wang about the possibility of China, North Korea's main ally, cutting off fuel and food to Pyongyang as a pressuring tactic. According to Sengoku, Wang responded with a question, ''Do you want the North Korean people to starve?'' When Sengoku said that people are already dying and that the leadership would be the one that would face a problem, Wang only replied that China is making sure its aid is reaching the general public, according to Sengoku.