BEIJING May 19 China has used various
diplomatic channels to warn North Korea not to conduct a fourth
nuclear test, multiple China-based diplomatic sources told
Reuters, after the reclusive state renewed its threat of
"counter-measures" against perceived U.S. hostility.
North Korea, which regularly threatens the South and the
United States with destruction, is already under heavy sanctions
imposed by several U.N. resolutions beginning in 2006 but has
defied pressure to abandon its missile and nuclear programmes.
It last conducted a nuclear test in February 2013.
"China has told North Korea that there is no justification
for a new nuclear test and that they should not do it," said a
Western diplomat who was briefed by Chinese officials.
The sources said China had used diplomatic channels in
Beijing and Pyongyang to convey its anxiety about the
possibility of a fourth test to the North.
China is North Korea's most important diplomatic and
economic ally, though three nuclear tests and several rounds of
sabre rattling have tested Beijing's support.
The United States has said it hopes China will use its
influence to coax the North to abandon its banned nuclear
weapons program. In recent public statements, Chinese foreign
ministry officials have repeatedly called on all parties to
"exercise restraint" on the Korean peninsula, without pointing
the finger at North Korea alone.
China signed on to tougher U.N. sanctions last year after
the third nuclear test, but has come under criticism from
western countries and independent experts for failing to
properly implement them.
North Korea's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said this
month the country was justified in using all available means at
its disposal to counter aggressive challenges by the United
States and South Korea aimed at stifling its sovereignty.
(Reporting By Megha Rajagopalan, additional reporting by Ben
Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)