N. Korea likens U.N. to gangsters after sanctions vote

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The resolution orders all countries to prevent the communist nation from importing or exporting any material for weapons of mass destruction.

UNITED NATIONS -- North Korea's U.N. ambassador accused the Security Council of "gangster-like" action and walked out after the United Nations' most powerful body voted unanimously Saturday to slap punishing sanctions on the reclusive communist nation for its claimed nuclear test.

U.S. ambassador John Bolton had seen the same performance by the diplomat, Pak Gil Yon, just three months ago when the council imposed limited sanctions on North Korea for carrying out a series of ballistic missile tests -- and he was clearly not amused.

"I'm not going to waste any of our time responding," Bolton told the council after Pak got up and left the council chamber.

But he said he wanted to call attention to the empty chair at the Security Council's horseshoe-shaped table where Pak had been sitting.

"It is the contemporary equivalent of Nikita Khruschev pounding his shoe on the desk," Bolton said, referring to the Soviet leader's legendary protest at the U.N. General Assembly in 1960.

The U.S.-sponsored resolution demands that the reclusive communist nation abandon its nuclear weapons program, and orders all countries to prevent North Korea from importing or exporting any material for weapons of mass destruction or ballistic missiles. It orders nations to freeze assets of people or businesses connected to these programs, and ban the individuals from traveling.

The resolution also calls on all countries to inspect cargo leaving and arriving in North Korea to prevent any illegal trafficking in unconventional weapons or ballistic missiles. The final draft was softened from language authorizing searches, but was still unacceptable to China -- the North's closest ally -- which said it would not carry out any searches.

In his speech to the council, Pak blamed the United States for the reported nuclear test, saying U.S. "threat, sanctions and pressure" had forced North Korea to "prove its possession of nukes to protect its sovereignty and right to existence from the daily increasing danger of war from the United States."

"If the United States increases pressure upon the Democratic People's Republic of Korea persistently, the DPRK will continue to take physical countermeasures considering it as a declaration of war," he added.

North Korea has made similar threats in the past, and has also said it might conduct a second nuclear test in response to U.N. sanctions.

The vote came after the United States, Britain and France overcame last-minute differences with Russia and China during what the Russian ambassador called "tense negotiations."

The resolution demands North Korea eliminate all its nuclear weapons but expressly rules out military action against the country, a demand by the Russians and Chinese. Bolton warned Pyongyang, however, that if it continues pursuing nuclear weapons, the United States would seek further measures.

The Security Council condemned the nuclear test that North Korea said it conducted Oct 9. It demanded that North Korea immediately return to six-nation talks aimed at persuading Pyongyang to dismantle its weapons program without precondition.

It also imposed sanctions for the North's "flagrant disregard" of the council's appeal not to detonate a nuclear device and demanded that North Korea "not conduct any further nuclear test or launch of a ballistic missile."

"This action by the United Nations, which was swift and tough, says that we are united in our determination to see to it that the Korean Peninsula is nuclear-weapons free," President Bush said.

South Korea's Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon, who was chosen on Friday to become the next U.N. secretary-general, said the council's resolution "sends a very strong, clear and unified message to North Korea."

"I hope that North Korea will comply with this resolution," he said. "I hope that all member states of the United Nations will fully implement this resolution."

Bolton said North Korea's proclaimed test "poses one of the gravest threats to international peace and security that this council has ever had to confront."

"Today, we are sending a strong and clear message to North Korea and other would be proliferators that there will be serious repercussions in continuing to pursue weapons of mass destruction," he said, in what appeared to be a clear warning to Iran whose nuclear ambitions come before the Security Council again next week.

In a measure aimed at North Korea's tiny elite, the resolution bans the sale of luxury goods to the country. The North's reclusive leader, Kim Jong Il, is known for his love of cognac and lobster and collection of thousands of bottles of vintage French wine.

To meet Russian and Chinese concerns, the Americans eliminated a complete ban on the sale of conventional weapons. Instead, the resolution limits the embargo to major hardware such as tanks, warships, combat aircraft and missiles.

The council's go-ahead for the inspection of cargo gave broader global scope to the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative launched in 2003 which urges countries to stop banned weapons from suspect countries including North Korea and Iran.

China's U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, said Beijing allowed the cargo provision to be included in what he called a "watered-down" resolution even though the government is opposed to it.

"China strongly urges the countries concerned to adopt a prudent and responsible attitude in this regard and refrain from taking any provocative steps that may intensify the tensions," he said.

Wang said he did not consider the North Korean ambassador's response the official reply from Pyongyang, which he awaits. "The important thing is not what they say here," Wang said.

The overriding issue, he said, is "how we work together for peace and security in the region."

Russia's U.N. ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow got what it wanted -- a strong resolution but one that is also aimed at "prevention of a further escalation of tension."

On Friday, U.S. officials said an air sampling after North Korea's claimed nuclear test detected radioactive debris consistent with an atomic explosion. However, the Bush administration and congressional officials said no final determination had been made about the nature of Monday's mystery-shrouded blast.

The U.S. and other nations trying to persuade the North to give up its atomic program continued a flurry of high-level diplomatic visits, including a trip to Asia by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meant to present a unified front to North Korea.

The resolution invokes Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which the U.S. views as a necessary because it makes economic and diplomatic sanctions mandatory.

China and Russia normally object to the Chapter 7 provision because it carries the possibility of military enforcement. The Bush administration used the same provision to justify its invasion of Iraq, and Moscow and Beijing worry the U.S. might do the same eventually with North Korea -- even though Bush has said the U.S. has no plans to attack.

But in a compromise also used in July to unanimously vote on a resolution condemning North Korean missile launches, the text added mention of Article 41 of the chapter, which permits only "means not involving the use of military force."

A Russian nuclear envoy who visited North Korea said Saturday he pressed the North to return to six-nation nuclear disarmament talks. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev said he had a "very useful" meeting Friday with Kim Gye Gwan, the North's nuclear negotiator, but did not say how Kim responded.

Pyongyang has boycotted the six-nation talks for the past 13 months to protest financial measures imposed by Washington for alleged counterfeiting and money-laundering.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: