Washington and Beijing have agreed that a nuclear test by North Korea would lead to its further isolation and set back efforts to restart regional talks on its nuclear disarmament, a U.S. envoy said.
After talks in Beijing on Friday with senior Chinese officials, U.S. envoy for North Korea Glyn Davies said both sides are opposed to any nuclear test by North Korea and said ridding it of nuclear weapons remains a condition for bringing stability to the region.
"We reached strong consensus that a nuclear test will be troubling and will set back efforts to de-nuclearize the Korean Peninsula. De-nuclearization is a necessary precondition to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula," Davies told reporters.
He said North Korea can choose to test and further isolate itself or return to disarmament talks that involve South Korea, Japan and Russia as well as the U.S. and China.
"We judge North Korea by its actions, not its words," he said.
Davies' Beijing talks come amid visits to South Korea and Japan to discuss what to do about North Korea. His tour also comes as tensions are rising and China is showing signs it wants to rein in its North Korean ally. Beijing fell into rare agreement with Washington this past week, allowing the U.N. to tighten sanctions against North Korea as punishment for a rocket launch last month.
In response, the North Korean Defense Commission, which commands the military, said it is prepared to conduct a nuclear test and made clear its missiles are capable of reaching the United States.
Another nuclear test by North Korea would pose a challenge to newly installed Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, unsteadying South Korea, Japan and the United States. Relations between the three and Beijing are strained, and their trade and investment help to keep the buoyant Chinese economy growing.
Asked about Davies' visit, China's Foreign Ministry said that given the current tensions, all sides need to keep calm. "The current situation of the peninsula is complicated and sensitive. We hope the relevant sides can stay calm, strengthen dialogue, avoid any acts that will escalate tension and jointly maintain peace and stability of the peninsula," ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a routine daily media briefing.
China provides most of North Korea's fuel and a good deal of its food and accounts for an increasing share of its trade and investment. But in more than a decade of recurring missile launches, two nuclear tests and other provocations by North Korea, China has been reluctant to use its economic leverage, fearing it could destabilize its neighbor.