“We hope through commemorating and reviewing the joint statement and its spirit, we will be able to… find a new way to restart the dialogue on the basis of balancing concerns held by each related party”, said Su Ge, president of China Institute of global Studies, which hosted the worldwide seminar from Friday to Saturday.
That prompted speculation that the North is preparing for its fourth nuclear test explosion.
“We call on all sides to adopt a responsible attitude toward the peninsula as well as the region of northeast Asia, and never again take any new action that could lead to tensions in the situation there”, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told an academic forum on the North Korea talks issue, without directly mentioning any country.
Shane Smith, a senior research fellow and North Korea expert at the National Defense University, estimates in a paper published on the website 38 North that North Korea has “enough fissile material to build anywhere from six to 30 nuclear weapons” and that it is “poised to grow its stockpile, perhaps dramatically, over the coming years”.
China’s response to North Korea’s last declared nuclear test, in the spring of 2013, was considered something of a watershed in degree of harshness.
“The joint statement is the foundation of the Six-Party Talks”.
A nuclear test or satellite launch would violate United Nations resolutions, the latter because the rocket technology needed can also be used to develop long-range missiles.
The six-party talks – which involve the two Koreas, the USA , China, Russian Federation and Japan – have been stalled since 2008.
The USA says, however, it is still willing to hold “exploratory talks” with the North without any preconditions to see if Pyongyang is still committed to denuclearization and to discuss how to restart meaningful negotiations focused on denuclearization.
Kim also said that additional construction at the Dongchang-ri launch site in North Pyongan Province, where the long-range missile could potentially be launched, is in its final stages, an analysis with which Beijing agreed.
The AEI director said scientists had been “steadily improving” both the quality and quantity of the North’s nuclear deterrent and he issued a by-now standard warning to the US.
Although the North Koreans have not yet demonstrated this capability, some USA military leaders believe they already possess it. The US and South Korea warned the North of stronger sanctions should it forge ahead with such provocations.
“The aim is to make substantive and forward-looking progress in South-North ties, not to talk for the sake of talking”, he said, requesting anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
There have been no reports of a serious fuel shortage in the North, which analysts said indicates that China has been providing crude oil to North Korea in the form of grant aid so that such shipments have not been recorded officially.
Wang urged all parties to refrain from exacerbating the tensions on the peninsula.
If North Korea launches a rocket, the United Nations Safety Council might reply by placing extra North Korean entities on its sanctions record.