China, Russia must take direct action against Pyongyang, says Tillerson in response to missile launch

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called on China to use the oil it supplies to North Korea as leverage. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters, AFP) - US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged China and Russia to take direct action against North Korea in response to its latest missile launch.

"China and Russia must indicate their intolerance for these reckless missile launches by taking direct actions of their own," Tillerson said in a statement.

He said China supplies North Korea with most of its oil and"Russia is the largest employer of North Korean forced labour."

Hours before the latest missile launch, Tillerson has called on China to use the oil it supplies to North Korea as leverage to pressure the isolated nation into reconsidering its nuclear programme.

The UN Security Council unanimously imposed on Monday an eighth set of sanctions on North Korea after its latest nuclear test, banning it from trading in textiles and restricting oil imports.

Washington had called for tougher restrictions, including an oil embargo, in response to Pyongyang's sixth and most powerful nuclear blast.But the US softened its stance in order to secure the backing of China and Russia, which could have vetoed the proposal.

"It's clear with respect to oil and a complete embargo from the Security Council, that's going to be very difficult," Tillerson said, standing alongside his British counterpart Boris Johnson.

The US secretary of state said it would be up to China alone to decide "to use the very powerful tool of oil supply to pressure North Korea" into reconsidering its approach to dialogue.

Johnson said sanctions were a way of "maximising the pressure on North Korea to reach a diplomatic solution", calling for the "complete and irreversible" denuclearisation of the Korean peninsular.

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