A report published by CNN on June 20 cited statements from two unnamed U.S. officials who told the network that U.S. spy satellites have detected new activity at North Korea’s underground nuclear test site for the first time in several weeks. The officials told CNN that if a sixth nuclear test by North Korea were to occur, it would be evident that the ongoing pressure that China is attempting to exert on North Korea has not been effective.
In a June 20 tweet, made in apparent response to the death of Otto Warmbier, a U.S. student who died after being imprisoned for 17 months in North Korea, President Trump said, “While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said following Trump’s tweet on June 20 that the United States had seen “positive movement on China over the past five months of this administration, and we’ll continue to work with them and others to put the appropriate pressure on North Korea to change this behavior and this regime.”
U.S. officials told CNN that they would not be able to say for at least a year whether Chinese pressure on North Korea is helping to rein in the country’s nuclear and missile programs.
A June 21 report in Britain’s Telegraph noted that senior officials from China and the United States would meet that day to discuss North Korea’s military ambitions, amid concern that the communist state is preparing for a sixth nuclear test.
During a meeting being held in Washington, the United States is seeking to increase pressure on Beijing to help rein in the Pyongyang regime. North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons programs are likely to head the agenda.
However, reported the Telegraph, China is also intent on broadening the agenda of the discussions and will try to gain concessions on a number of contentious issues. Among these are the deployment of U.S. missiles in South Korea and the U.S. relationship with Taiwan, which China regards as its own territory.