Beijing rebuffed attempts by senior North Korean Army figure Choe Ryong-hae, who visited China last month, to get it to recognize North Korea as a bona fide nuclear power, a military source here said Sunday.
"We verified through numerous channels that Choe demanded that North Korea be recognized as a nuclear power during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping," the source said.
Choe apparently argued that the purpose of his country's nuclear weapons program was to counter what it perceived as a U.S. threat.
The source said, "We believe Choe was directed by [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-un to make the request."
But Xi, according to Chinese media reports, told Choe, "Our stance is very clear. No matter how the political climate changes, the countries involved must firmly maintain their goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula."
Chinese Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Fang Fenghui told his South Korean counterpart Gen. Jung Seung-jo in Beijing earlier this month that China made it clear to the North that its three principles for the peninsula are denuclearization, peace and stability, and negotiation and dialogue.