Washington Ups Pressure On China To Act On North Korea

(CNN)

The head of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff on Wednesday joined a chorus of American officials calling for China to take a leading role in defusing tension on the Korean peninsula, specifically using its influence with North Korea.

"The Chinese have enormous influence over the North, influence that no other nation on Earth enjoys," Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a news conference in Seoul, South Korea. "And yet, despite a shared interest in reducing tensions, they appear unwilling to use it."

Mullen is in Seoul to meet with defense leaders and demonstrate the strength of the U.S.-South Korea alliance.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula escalated following North Korea's shelling of South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island last month, as well as the March sinking of a South Korean warship -- allegedly by a North Korean torpedo -- and recent revelations that it is enriching uranium for nuclear weapons.

"Even tacit approval of Pyongyang's brazenness leaves all their neighbors asking, '... What will be next?'" Mullen said in his challenge.