The United States believes China and Russia have leverage they can use to persuade North Korea not to resume nuclear bomb testing, according to a senior US administration official.
The official, who spoke to the Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity, said that while the US had been saying since May that North Korea was preparing to resume nuclear testing for the first time since 2017, it was not clear when it might conduct such a test.
“We have a high level of confidence that they have made preparations,” the US official told Reuters. “We believe that they could do this … I can’t tell you ‘we think it will be this day for the following reasons,’ because we just don’t have that level of knowledge.”
Washington wanted to see Russia and China do what they could to dissuade Pyongyang.
“We do think that they (North Korea) are making calculations about the degree of receptivity for others in the region, I think, particularly Russia and China. And I think that the Russian and Chinese attitudes do have influence with them.”
North Korea is banned from conducting nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches under Security Council sanctions, which have been strengthened over the years to try and cut off funding for its weapons programmes.
But growing discord in the 15-member body, exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, has undermined the consensus on how to deal with North Korea. In May, Russia and China vetoed a US-led effort to impose more UN sanctions on Pyongyang over its renewed ballistic missile tests, having backed tighter sanctions in 2017.
The US official said Pyongyang might have delayed its resumption of nuclear testing because of China, its closest ally, which recently concluded its Communist Party Congress, an event held once every five years.