China criticizes North Korea, praises United States on nuclear issue

US VP Pence says to North Korea: 'The sword stands ready'

China may be getting fed up with continued nuclear bluster from long-time ally North Korea and tilting toward the United States. In response to the action, a North Korean foreign minister said the U.S.'s recent attack on Syria justifies North Korea's nuclear defense program. The U.S. now has about 30,000 American troops stationed in neighboring South Korea, with frequent American military exercises' occurring in the surrounding area.

The North conducted two nuclear bomb tests and 24 ballistic missile tests last year, defying six Security Council sanctions resolutions banning any testing, and it has conducted additional missile tests this year, including one on Saturday that failed.

The UN statement was delayed as U.S. and Russian Federation sparred over language. In an interview with a BBC reporter, Han Song-Ryol, North Korean vice foreign minister, said the country will continue conducting missile tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis.

It would also demand an immediate end to the North's nuclear and missile tests, threaten to take "further significant measures" - United Nations code for new sanctions - and state that North Korea's illegal activities "are greatly increasing tension in the region and beyond". Now, however, the naval fleet is sailing toward the Korean peninsula and is expected to arrive in the next week, White House officials have said. He also added that an "all-out war" would result if the USA took military action against the country.

United Nations diplomats said the proposed statement of condemnation had consensus from the other 14 Council members, including China, North Korea's biggest ally and a Council permanent member.

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There are concerns the communist state will celebrate the holiday with a nuclear test or an intercontinental ballistic missile. South Korea said on Monday it was in talks with Washington about holding its own joint drills with the US naval strike force.

The Pentagon has also dispatched the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson strike group to the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea declared itself a nuclear power in 2005.

When asked about the Vinson's movements Wednesday, Lu was measured in his response, reiterating at one point, "we maintain close contacts with the USA on the current situation".

"The situation on the Korean peninsula and in the region has reached an extremely risky phase due to the mad-cap nuclear war provocations of the U.S.", the Foreign Ministry said Friday in a statement reported by state-run news agency KCNA.

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