China says diplomacy needed to rid Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons

North Korea's intermediate-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 lifting off from the launching pad at an undisclosed location near Pyongyang on Aug 29, 2017.
North Korea's intermediate-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 lifting off from the launching pad at an undisclosed location near Pyongyang on Aug 29, 2017. PHOTO: AFP/KCNA VIA KNS

BEIJING (Reuters) - Denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula should be achieved through peaceful and diplomatic means, China's foreign ministry said on Monday (Sept 11), as the United Nations discusses fresh sanctions against North Korea following its latest nuclear test.

At a regular news briefing, ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reiterated China's call for more steps by the UN Security Council, saying he hoped its members could reach consensus.

A US-drafted resolution originally called for an oil embargo on the North, a halt to key textile exports and financial and travel bans on leader Kim Jong Un, but appears to have been watered down, according to a draft seen by Reuters.

China, the North's lone major ally, may be most critical though in deciding if oil sanctions go ahead because it controls an oil pipeline that industry sources say provides about 520,000 tonnes of crude a year to the North.

A Security Council resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by permanent members the United States, Britain, France, Russia or China to pass.

North Korea drew global condemnation for conducting its sixth nuclear test on Sept 3, which it said was of an advanced hydrogen bomb.

Earlier on Monday (Sept 11), North Korea warned the United States on Monday that it would pay a "due price" for spearheading efforts for fresh sanctions on the regime following its latest nuclear test.

The North's Foreign Ministry spokesman said the United States was "going frantic" to manipulate the Security Council over Pyongyang's nuclear test, which it said was part of "legitimate self-defensive measures."

"In case the U.S. eventually does rig up the illegal and unlawful 'resolution' on harsher sanctions, the DPRK shall make absolutely sure that the U.S. pays due price," the spokesman said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency. DPRK stands for the North's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"The world will witness how the DPRK tames the U.S. gangsters by taking a series of actions tougher than they have ever envisaged," the unnamed spokesman said.

"The DPRK has developed and perfected the super-powerful thermo-nuclear weapon as a means to deter the ever-increasing hostile moves and nuclear threat of the U.S. and defuse the danger of nuclear war looming over the Korean peninsula and the region."

South Korean President Moon Jae In said last week during a visit to Russia that shutting off North Korea's supply of oil was inevitable this time to bring Pyongyang to talks and he called for Russian President Vladimir Putin's support. Putin has remained firm however that such sanctions on oil would have negative humanitarian effects on North Koreans.