MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday reiterated that only China could disrupt North Korea’s nuclear plans, as he warned of the devastating consequences of a nuclear fallout in the region.
In a speech during his tour of Australian ship HMAS Adelaide, Duterte said China “appears to be the only [one that can throw a] monkey wrench into the violent plans of Kim Jong-un.”
Beijing is Pyongyang's biggest trading partner.
“There will always be consequences for all of us. Nuclear bombs can create devastation and create also arid lands,” he said in a speech before Australian sailors aboard the ship.
“You have to keep watch over him (North Korean Leader Kim) and it is always good to be prepared,” he said.
Duterte also noted that Beijing is worried about the increasingly tense situation since Pyongyang is its neighbor and any eruption of violence could bring its chief rival, Washington, right at its doorsteps.
China had said it would ban exports of some petroleum products to North Korea, as well as imports of textiles from the isolated state, in line with a United Nations Security Council resolution passed after Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test.
North Korea earlier threatened to send a missile to Guam, a US territory, and recently tested a missile that flew over Japanese air space, ramping up tensions.
The Philippines has halted trade with North Korea in line with the UN sanctions. The government has also put in place a contingency plan for the estimated 60,000 Filipinos in South Korea in case conflict erupts.
CHINA CALLS FOR RESTRAINT
China on Monday called for restraint on North Korea after United States President Donald Trump warned over the weekend that “only one thing will work” in dealing with Pyongyang, hinting that military action was on his mind.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying reiterated a call for all parties involved with the standoff in North Korea to exercise restraint, describing the situation as extremely complex and serious.
China hopes all sides do nothing to irritate each other or worsen the problem and speak and act cautiously, she told a daily news briefing.
In recent weeks, North Korea has launched two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth nuclear test, all in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, and may be fast advancing toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland.
Trump has repeatedly made clear his distaste for dialogue with North Korea. Last week, he dismissed the idea of talks as a waste of time, a day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington was maintaining open lines of communication with the North Korean leader’s government.
North Korea has launched dozens of missiles this year, several of them flying over Japan, as it accelerates a weapons program aimed at enabling it to target the United States with a nuclear-tipped missile.
The United States and South Korea are technically still at war with North Korea as the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce and not a peace treaty.
The North accuses the United States, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea, of planning to invade and regularly threatens to destroy it and its Asian allies. – with Reuters