US President Donald Trump today called North Korea a "great threat and embarrassment" to China and warned that "appeasement" won't work with Pyongyang, after the reclusive nation carried out its biggest nuclear test yet.
Trump said the latest nuclear test by the North - its sixth - showed that "their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous" to the United States. He also took aim at China - North Korea's biggest trading partner - for failing to exercise its influence to contain Pyongyang's rapidly developing nuclear weapons programme.
Trump previously persuaded China to do more to control the North Korean regime, but Beijing has resisted any pressure saying the issue should be settled through negotiations.
Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping had discussed the issue in their first face-to-face meeting in Florida in April.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had then said Xi agreed to cooperate in reining in North Korea's nuclear programmes. Since then, Trump has appeared less optimistic on Chinese cooperation.
"North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success," Trump said today in another tweet.
He indicated that he favours tougher actions against North Korea and the South's preference for talks was not going to yield results. "South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!" Trump said.
China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs was quick to condemn the test. "The Democratic People's Republic of Korea has once again conducted a nuclear test in spite of widespread opposition from the international community. The Chinese government resolutely opposes and strongly condemns it."
North Korea claimed it has successfully tested a hydrogen bomb meant to be loaded onto an intercontinental ballistic missile. It last carried out a nuclear test in September 2016.
Pyongyang has defied UN sanctions to develop nuclear weapons and to test missiles which could potentially reach the mainland US.
Last month, North Korea threatened to launch missiles to hit the US Pacific territory of Guam after Trump said Pyongyang would face "fire and fury" if it threatened the US. Those threats have not deterred the North's nuclear weapons programme.
Last week, North Korea flew a medium-range ballistic missile over Japan, prompting the government in Tokyo to warn residents to take cover.
Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed the growing threat from the North Korean actions today. A readout of their conversation, however, did not say whether the phone call - the third between the two leaders in less than a week - happened before or after the North's latest test.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the National security team was monitoring the situation. "The president and his national security team will have a meeting to discuss further later today."