After a record year of missile tests, Kim Jong-Un claimed last week that North Korea would have the most potent nuclear force in the world.
In response, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol warned of an unprecedented joint response, with help from key allies.
Yoon appealed to China to assist in preventing the North from continuing its allegedly illegal pursuit of atomic weapons and missile development.
He stated that China, North Korea’s closest ally, must fulfill its responsibilities as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. He added that failure to do so could lead to the deployment of military forces in the region.
Yoon suggested that if North Korea continues to test nuclear weapons, South Korea and its allies’ response “will be something that has never been seen before,” but he did not elaborate.
“It would be extremely unwise for North Korea to conduct a seventh nuclear test,” Yoon continued.
From 1950 to 1953, China fought alongside the North in the Korean War. Since then, China has helped the North in both economic and diplomatic ways.
Still, some analysts say Beijing may be unable to stop the Pyongyang leader. Furthermore, they may not even be prepared to, according to Reuters.
“North Korea’s repeated nuclear and missile tests have put China in a more and more difficult position,” said Shi Yinhong, Center for American Studies director at Renmin University in Beijing.
Shi also suggested that Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, is “becoming more and more hostile toward China” since China agreed to tougher international sanctions against Pyongyang.
China has claimed it follows the Security Council sanctions, which it voted for, but it has asked for them to be softened. Furthermore, along with Russia, it has stopped U.S.-led efforts to impose new sanctions.
U.S. President Joe Biden told Chinese President Xi Jinping before the G20 summit that China had to try to talk North Korea out of doing a nuclear test, but he did not know if China could do that.
Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser, told reporters before the meeting that Biden would tell Xi that if North Korea kept making weapons, it would lead to a larger U.S. military presence in the area.
The U.S. recently agreed to send more “strategic assets” like aircraft carriers and long-range bombers to the region. Nevertheless, Yoon also said he did not think the number of American troops stationed on the ground in South Korea — 28,000 — would change.
Sung Kim, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, was in Seoul for a trilateral meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts last July. They discussed the growing threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs, according to the Associated Press (AP).
“The U.S. assesses that [North Korea] is preparing at its Punggye-ri test site for what would be its seventh nuclear test. This assessment is consistent with the DPRK’s own recent public statements,” Kim said.