The Bush administration, citing new inspections by the Chinese of trucks bound for North Korea, said Monday it expected China would do its part in enforcing a U.N. resolution punishing its reclusive ally for its nuclear program.
The United States is pressing China for tough action against North Korea ahead of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's trip this week to Asia.
R. Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, pointed to the fact that Chinese customs inspectors had begun inspecting cargo trucks bound for North Korea in the border city of Dandong. Japan and Australia, meanwhile, announced Monday that they might take measures beyond the new U.N. sanctions against North Korea for that country's reported nuclear test.
"We have indications this morning the Chinese are beginning to apply this to their very long land border"with North Korea, Burns said on CBS'"The Early Show.""We also have announcements from Japan and Australia. I spoke to both governments this morning. They are both implementing this."
He said there will be"enormous pressure on China to live up to their responsibility"in enforcing United Nations punishment of its ally, North Korea."We are all banking on that."
White House press secretary Tony Snow said President Bush had not personally been making any calls Monday on the matter. Snow urged patience before judging China's commitment to the inspections.
"The parties have committed to fulfilling its conditions,"Snow said."Let's see what happens, all right?"
Rice travels to the region Tuesday for a series of talks aimed at easing tensions among countries already on edge from the North's claimed nuclear test.
China, which voted Saturday for the U.N. penalties, has balked at cargo inspections to prevent trafficking of certain banned weapons and technology.
"I'm quite certain that China is going to live up to its responsibilities,"Rice said Sunday, adding she was willing to have"conversations"during her trip on how best to enforce the resolution.
The United States'U.N. ambassador portrayed North Korea's detonation last week as a public humiliation for China, which shares a long border with North Korea and is the North's chief ally and supplier of crucial shipments of food and energy aid.
If China were to cut its support, John Bolton said, it"would be powerfully persuasive in Pyongyang,"the North's capital."They've not yet been willing to do it. I think that China has a heavy responsibility here."
Rice, who joined Bolton in making the rounds of the Sunday talk shows, plans to visit Asian partners this week to consult about the resolution."I understand that people are concerned about how it might work so it doesn't enhance tensions in the region, and we're perfectly willing to have those conversations,"Rice said.
Bolton said the United States'concept of the resolution"is that the overwhelming predominance of the inspections would take place in ports or at land crossings or that sort of thing. But the resolution neither increases nor decreases existing authority to interdict on the high seas."
The U.S.-sponsored resolution demands North Korea eliminate nuclear weapons but rules out military action against the country, as the Russians and Chinese demanded.
After the resolution unanimously passed, North Korea's U.N. ambassador accused council members of a"gangster-like"action that neglects the nuclear threat posed by the United States.
China's U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, said his country"strongly urges the countries concerned to adopt a prudent and responsible attitude in this regard and refrain from taking any provocative steps that may intensify the tensions."
Meanwhile, a leading Senate Republican urged direct talks with North Korea, as the reclusive nation has sought."We do need to engage the North Koreans"because the U.N. resolution is weak and limited, said Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, the second-ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
But Rice brushed aside such calls, reaffirming the U.S. commitment to six-nation disarmament talks, which have stalled.
Critics said the U.N. penalties will not curb North Korea's nuclear ambitions and stemmed from what they saw as President Bush's failed foreign policy.
Democratic Sen. John Kerry said the Bush administration is"living in a complete fantasy with respect to the foreign policy they put in place. It is a failure."He said U.S. involvement in Iraq has undermined America's credibility to deal with nuclear threats in North Korea and Iran.
Associated Press writers Edith M. Lederer from the United Nations, Nedra Pickler from Washington and William Foreman and Hans Greimel from Seoul contributed to this report.
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