China released a list of items to be banned from exports to North Korea, a step it says is in line with U.N. sanctions over the North's nuclear program.
The list of the banned dual-use materials and technologies that could be used by North Korea for developing nuclear weapons was published by the Chinese Commerce Ministry this week.
The ministry said under the ban to implement relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, "the dual-use products and technologies related to weapons of mass destruction" would be banned from exports to North Korea, South Korea's Yonhap News reported.
"It also speaks to the serious attitude of China to have rule-based and regulation-based administrations," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters. He also said it was hoped efforts would be made to restart the stalled six-nation talks on North Korea's denuclearization.
North Korea is China's closest ally, but The New York Times said the export ban reflects Beijing's growing concern over the North's nuclear program. The report said the Chinese action also comes at a time of a number of reports indicating North Korea is speeding up its nuclear weapons efforts.
China's concerns have increased since North Korea conducted its third nuclear test in February. China joined other nations in condemning that test and voted in favor of the U.N. Security Council resolution to tighten its sanctions against the North. At the same time, Beijing also has been seeking to restart the talks on the North's nuclear disarmament. Those involved in the talks include the two Koreas, Japan, China, Russia and the United States.
"The release of the new export control list is a signal China is concerned about the speeding up of weaponization" of North Korea's nuclear capabilities, the Times quoted Zhu Feng, deputy director of the Center for International and Strategic Studies at Beijing University, as saying.
U.S. expert David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, told the Times the Chinese ban would help as North Korea procures much from China.