US Senator John McCain questioned China’s commitment to restraining North Korea, and called on Beijing and Moscow to back punitive sanctions after the hermit state’s rocket launch.
McCain, who stood unsuccessfully for the US presidency last year, said the reaction from Beijing and Moscow to Sunday’s launch, they urged restraint in handling the North -- had been “predictable.”
“We all know that the major influence on North Korea is China. Everyone knows that,” McCain said. “The Chinese have been, I think, less than committed to restraining North Korea’s activities.”
He said statements by China and Russia amounted to an under-reaction to the gravity of the situation, and urged the UN Security Council to agree a tough response.
“It is time to turn its past words into meaningful action, including punitive sanctions, against the regime in Pyongyang,” McCain said.
“In conducting this launch North Korea defied the will of the international community, including China and Russia, and they should join the United States and others in imposing strict sanctions.”
The North insists the rocket placed a satellite into orbit, but the United States and its allies say it never made it into space and the real purpose was to test the delivery vehicle, a long-range Taepodong-2 ballistic missile.
The Security Council met Sunday for three hours behind closed doors in New York, but adjourned without agreement on its response to what Western members said was a clear violation of UN resolutions.
McCain, who was in Hong Kong on an Asian tour, called for total compliance in stopping the export of weapons and luxury goods to North Korea.
“Maybe it is time we heard from Russia and China, ‘we will act with you to impose sanctions that will stop activities that are clearly in violation of UN Security Council resolutions´,” he added.
he said Christopher Hill, who headed the US delegation to six-nation talks aimed at halting North Korea’s nuclear programme and has been nominated as the new US ambassador to Iraq, had stoked hopes diplomacy could curb Pyongyang’s ambitions.
“I think it is very clear that Ambassador Hill, at least from my view of his performance, raised expectations during his conduct as chief negotiator for our administration,” McCain said.
“I don’t like to single out particular individuals. This was, frankly, a collective failure and it raises the level of risk for security in the future.”
The six-party talks bring together the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.
McCain, accompanied by Senators Lindsey Graham and Amy Klobuchar, met Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang and pro-democracy activists during his short trip here.
The group were heading Monday to Vietnam, and will also visit Japan and China.