Tillerson: China threatened to sanction North Korea

Secretary of State says China has threatened to sanction North Korea if it carries out another nuclear test.

Ben Ariel ,

Rex Tillerson
Rex 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.

Tillerson's comments came during an interview on Fox News, in which he said China has asked North Korea not to conduct any more nuclear tests.

Tillerson, who was quoted by Reuters, 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," the Secretary of State added, without specifying what sanctions he was referring to.

North Korea has continued to conduct nuclear and missile tests in violation of UN Security Council sanctions.

In a move which demonstrated how seriously it takes the North Korean threat, the U.S. military on Tuesday started moving parts of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile defense system into a planned deployment site in South Korea.

North Korea's military has in the past threatened a "physical response" if the United States and South Korea deploy the advanced missile defense system to the Korean peninsula.

Tillerson did not specify in his remarks on Thursday when China made the threat and there was no immediate confirmation from Beijing.

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.

Officials said last week that Trump's strategy toward North Korea hinges on China.