U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said North Korea’s nuclear test may present an opening for China to back a tougher response from the international community.
“Just based on what the Chinese government has said publicly, they’re clearly pretty unhappy,” Gates told reporters traveling with him today to Singapore for an annual Asian security conference known as the Shangri-La Dialogue. “It is important for the Chinese to be part of any effort to try and deal with these issues.”
China’s foreign ministry has said the country “resolutely opposes” North Korea’s nuclear test. China on May 25 agreed with the U.S., Japan and Russia to work toward a United Nations Security Council resolution censuring North Korea. The U.S. and Japan want the statement to call for cutting the communist country’s global financial ties and to forbid the regime from selling weapons to raise money, UN diplomats said.
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Any diplomatic response and economic sanctions should be coordinated among partner countries, Gates said, adding that he doesn’t foresee military action “unless they do something that requires it.”
Potential sanctions should be aimed at the regime without causing harm to the North Korean people, Gates said. North Korea’s actions don’t require any reinforcement of the U.S. military presence in South Korea, he said. There are 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in the country.