Asked to clarify if he believed the US could solve the problem without China, Trump said: “totally.”
In an interview with ABC News Sunday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the US should “no longer take the excuses from China that ‘they’re concerned.'”
“They need to show us how concerned they are… the only country that can stop North Korea is China, and they know that,” she said.
The US maintains that China hasn’t done enough to apply financial pressure given that Beijing is North Korea’s only real ally and accounts for 70% of the country’s trade.
China has repeatedly said that its influence over the North Korea has been overstated, and the US and South Korea should stop antagonizing North Korea with its annual military drills.
“On one hand, North Korea has violated UN Security Council resolutions banning its ballistic missile launches; on the other hand, South Korea, the US — and now Japan — insist on conducting super-large-scale military drills. It’s a vicious cycle that could spiral out of control — and such a scenario would benefit no one,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said during a press briefing on March 14.
Beijing has proposed a “double halt” approach that would see North Korea suspend its nuclear program, while the US and South Korea would call off joint military drills.
The US has already dismissed the plan. In a briefing on March 9, Mark Toner, the acting State Department spokesman, said: “There’s no equivalence between North Korea’s illegal missile and nuclear activities and what is our lawful, longstanding joint security exercises with our allies in the region.”
North Korean state media has slammed the drills, accusing the countries in a report dated March 12 of “becoming more reckless as the days go by.”
On Monday, the US, South Korea and Japan announced a new round of exercises from April 3-5. South Korean Defense Ministry Spokesman Moon Sang-gyun said drills were planned “to show a strong resolve to counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats as North Korea has been steadily improving its submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) capabilities.”
North Korea has test-fired a number of missiles this year and in recent weeks has tested engines which analysts said could be used to power long-range weapons.
Last September, Pyongyang claimed to have tested a nuclear warhead, with South Korea’s weather service estimating the explosion to have about 10 kilotons of power, or about two-thirds the power of the bomb the US dropped on Hiroshima in World War II.
Speaking in South Korea last month, Tillerson warned that the US would leave the option of military action on the table with regard to North Korea.