China warned North Korea of sanctions after any nuclear test: Tillerson
China has told the Trump administration it warned North Korea it would impose unilateral sanctions should Pyongyang carry out another nuclear test, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Thursday, in possibly China's toughest threat yet against its defiant neighbor.Tillerson, speaking on Fox News, said China has asked North Korea not to conduct any more nuclear tests, Reuters reported.
He noted that major commemorations in North had passed in recent days without a feared nuclear test or test of any intercontinental ballistic missile.
"And in fact we were told by the Chinese that they informed the regime that if they did conduct further nuclear tests, China would be taking sanctions actions on their own," Tillerson said, without specifying what sanctions he was referring to.
Tillerson did not say when China made the threat and there was no immediate confirmation from Beijing. He is due to chair a meeting with U.N Security Council foreign ministers on Friday, where he said he would stress the need for members to fully implement existing sanctions as well as possible next steps.
"We're going to be discussing what next steps may be necessary to increase the pressure on the regime," he said.
The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tillerson's comments suggest that President Donald Trump's administration, which held a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping this month, believes its efforts may have yielded a stronger line by Beijing against the North.
China banned imports of North Korean coal in February, cutting off its most important export, and Chinese media this month raised the possibility of restricting oil shipments to the North if it unleashed more provocations.
China earlier on Thursday welcomed an apparently softer tone by the United States on the North Korean nuclear and missile crisis but stressed its opposition to a U.S. missile defense system being deployed in South Korea.
China has long promoted dialogue to resolve the Korean nuclear issue as North Korea has repeatedly threatened to destroy the United States. Washington has in turn warned that "all options are on the table" in ending North Korean provocations.
But Tillerson was quoted telling National Public Radio as saying the United States would favor direct talks with the North, if it has "the right agenda."
On Fox News, Tillerson said U.S. intelligence reports suggest North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was "not crazy," indicating he might be a rational actor who could be negotiated with.
"He may be ruthless, he may be a murderer. He may be someone who in many respects we would say by our standards is irrational. But he is not insane," Tillerson said.