China signed up for sanctions after the 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests and for a U.N. Security Council resolution passed in January to condemn the latest rocket launch. However, Beijing has stopped short of abandoning all support for Pyongyang.
Sanctions have so far not discouraged North Korea from pursuing its nuclear ambitions, analysts said.
“It is like watching the same movie over and over again,” said Lee Woo-young, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.
“The idea that stronger sanctions make North Korea stop developing nuclear programs isn’t effective in my view.”
The source with ties to Beijing and Pyongyang said China would again support U.N. sanctions. He declined to comment on what level of sanctions Beijing would be willing to endorse.
“When China supported U.N. sanctions ... (North) Korea angrily called China a puppet of the United States,” he said. “There will be new sanctions which will be harsh. China is likely to agree to it,” he said, without elaborating.
He said however that Beijing would not cut food and fuel supplies to North Korea, a measure that it reportedly took after a previous nuclear test.
He said North Korea’s actions were a distraction for China’s leadership, which was concerned the escalations could inflame public opinion in China and hasten military build-ups in the region.
The source said that he saw little room for compromise under North Korea’s youthful new leader, Kim Jong-un. The third Kim to rule North Korea is just 30 years old and took over from his father in December 2011.