The White House on Monday said that United States President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang have agreed to improve cooperation in the United Nations Security Council and in law-enforcement channels to tackle North Korea's repeated missile tests. This decision came after the fifth and the most powerful nuclear test by North Korea on September 9.
According to UN diplomats, the two countries have been engaged in discussions on a possible UN sanctions resolution, but Beijing is yet to confirm if it supports tougher steps against North Korea.
United States and China are also focusing on the finances of Hongxiang Industrial, a Communist-controlled Chinese company, which the US government thinks plays a prominent role in assisting the nuclear program of North Korea, reported the Wall Street Journal.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) is likely to take legal action soon against all the Chinese firms suspected of providing financial aid to North Korea's capital Pyongyang.
"Both leaders condemned North Korea's September 9 nuclear test and resolved to strengthen coordination in achieving the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, including by invigorating cooperation in the United Nations Security Council and in law enforcement channels on North Korea," a White House statement said, according to Reuters.
Barack Obama met Li on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly session in New York.
China, other than being North Kora's biggest trading partner, has also been the country's most important diplomatic supporter. However, repeated nuclear and missile tests by Pyongyang compelled the Asian giant to support the increasingly tough UN sanctions, but it called for return talks with North Korea as it believes that such steps are not the ultimate answer.
Moreover, China told Japan that it opposes the "unhelpful" unilateral sanctions imposed on North Korea but will work with the UN to devise a response.
Washington, on the other hand, has been pressing Beijing to tighten its rein over North Korea. The United States also said that it is willing to talk and negotiate with the North if the country promises to stop its tests and give up its nuclear weapons, which Pyongyang has blatantly refused.
North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test on September 9, setting off a blast that was more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and said it had mastered the ability to mount a warhead on a ballistic missile.
On September 13, South Korea's Defence Ministry said that North Korea is ready to conduct an additional nuclear test at any time. "Assessment by South Korean and U.S. intelligence is that the North is always ready for an additional nuclear test in the Punggye-ri area," the site of all five nuclear explosions, South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun told a news briefing.
"North Korea has a tunnel where it can conduct an additional nuclear test," Moon said.