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April 16, 2012

China Joins World Powers in Strong Warning to North Korea

China has joined other world powers in warning North Korea that they will not tolerate any more provocations after the isolated nation's failed rocket launch last week.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said late Monday in Brasilia that the U.N. Security Council members, including China, are agreed there will be "further consequences" in the event of another provocative act by North Korea. Recent satellite photographs show Pyongyang may be preparing for an underground nuclear test.

China's state-controlled media are also showing signs of frustration with Pyongyang, noting that China took "a clear attitude in condemning" its longtime ally when it backed a U.N. Security Council statement criticizing the rocket launch.

China's Communist Party-controlled Global Times newspaper said Tuesday that Pyongyang should not be misled into thinking it can ignore Beijing's wishes with impunity. The paper said North Korea will "pay the price if it tries to abduct China's North Korea policy."

In its unanimous statement Monday, the Security Council condemned Friday's rocket launch as a "serious violation" of existing U.N. resolutions, and ordered its sanctions committee to tighten measures aimed at preventing North Korea from developing and exporting nuclear and missile technology. The statement said the council will respond accordingly to any further provocations.

Pyongyang had announced the failed launch as an effort to put a weather satellite into orbit, but the United States and other countries condemned it as a covert attempt to test a ballistic missile that could later be used to fire a nuclear warhead. Existing U.N. resolutions bar it from any use of ballistic missile technology.

Japanese media reported Tuesday that Pyongyang has also withdrawn an invitation for International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to visit its facilities in retaliation for the U.S. cancelation of a food aid package.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, who heads the Security Council this month, said in New York Monday that the failed space shot had caused "grave security concerns" across much of East Asia.

"The swift and unanimous adoption of this strong presidential statement shows that the international community is united in sending a clear message to North Korea that such provocations are serious and totally unacceptable.  Critically, the Security Council made clear there will be consequences for any further North Korean launch or nuclear test," she said. "If North Korea chooses again to defy the international community, then the Council has expressed its determination to take action accordingly."

Hours later in Brasilia, Clinton stressed China's commitment to punishing any further provocations. China has long been North Korea's most reliable ally and is believed to have more influence over its behavior than any other country.

Several analysts have noted that two previous failed North Korean missile launches were shortly followed by underground nuclear tests. South Korean officials last week made available satellite photos of new activity at North Korea's nuclear test site.

However, Global Times quotes the dean of the Center for Korean Peninsula Studies at Tongji University in Shanghai as saying Pyongyang knows the consequences of another nuclear test would be much graver than in the past.

"The rocket launch has already cost the state roughly $850 million, enough to buy 2.5 million tons of corn," Cui Zhiying told the paper. "Does it have enough money to carry out another nuclear test? I seriously doubt it."

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.