U.S., Japan push for Saturday vote on sanctions resolution against North Korea
UNITED NATIONS – The U.S. and Japan said they want a vote Saturday by the U.N. Security Council on a resolution imposing punishing sanctions on North Korea for its claimed nuclear test and demanding the elimination of all its nuclear weapons.But last-minute changes sought by Russia and China could delay a vote. The five permanent council members – the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France – and Japan met late Friday afternoon to discuss their concerns and were to meet again Saturday morning before the full 15-member council convenes.”I’m still ready to go for a vote, and we’ll just have to see what the instructions are overnight, in particular from Moscow and China,” U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said late Friday. “I thought we had agreed. We had agreed this morning that we were going to vote tomorrow morning.”He said the changes sought by China and Russia were essentially technical and a vote could still be possible on Saturday.In an effort by the U.S. and its allies to compromise, the latest draft expressly rules out military action against North Korea, a demand by the Russians and Chinese. The Americans also eliminated a complete ban on the sale of conventional weapons; instead, the draft limits the embargo to major hardware such as tanks, warships, combat aircraft and missiles.But the resolution would still ban the import or export of material and equipment that could be used to make nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles, and would authorize all countries to inspect cargo leaving and arriving in North Korea to prevent any illegal trafficking.The accord came as North Korean ships loaded their final cargo of secondhand bicycles and household appliances in the Japanese port city of Sakaiminato after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet agreed to ban trade with the communist state. The unilateral Japanese sanctions also include a six-month ban on travel to Japan by all North Korean government officials.The United States and other nations trying to persuade the North to give up its atomic program continued a flurry of high-level diplomatic visits. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice planned a trip next week to Asia; Russia sent an envoy to Pyongyang; and the presidents of China and South Korea – the North’s main sources of trade and aid – met in Beijing to discuss the proposed resolution.Bolton said earlier Friday that the council’s agreement just five days after North Korea’s announcement it had detonated a nuclear device was “a sign of the determination of the council in the face of this threat to move quickly.”The U.S.-sponsored draft would declare that Monday’s test claimed by North Korea had increased tension in northeast Asia, creating “a clear threat to international peace and security.” It would condemn the claimed test in “flagrant disregard” of the council’s appeal not to detonate a nuclear device, demand that North Korea not conduct any further test or launch any more ballistic missiles, and authorize a range of economic and diplomatic sanctions.The draft would also freeze the financial assets of – and impose a travel ban on – individuals and entities with any connection to North Korea’s weapons or missile programs. It would also ban countries from selling luxury goods to North Korea.Asked why, Bolton said, “I think the North Korean population has been losing average height and weight over the years and maybe this will be a little diet for Kim Jong Il,” North Korea’s leader.Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya, asked earlier whether Beijing was prepared to go along with the ban, said: “I don’t know what luxury goods means, because luxury goods can mean many things for different people … if they don’t have it.”The latest draft resolution still invokes Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which the U.S. views as a necessary enforcement tool 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 President Bush has said the U.S. has no plans to attack.But in a compromise also used in July to reach a unanimous 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.”In another key change to gain Chinese and Russian support, the resolution now says the inspection process – which covers shipments by land, air and sea – will be “cooperative” with local authorities. Both China and Russia share borders with North Korea and are uncomfortable with the possibility of the U.S. inderdicting ships near their coasts. At any rate, Bolton said he expected most actions would be performed at ports.South Korea’s Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon, who has been a key figure in dealings with North Korea, told reporters soon after the General Assembly voted by acclamation to appoint him the next U.N. secretary-general that he hopes the Security Council will be able to adopt the resolution Saturday and send “a very strong and clear message” to Pyongyang.The resolution would rely on all countries to implement the sanctions, but it would create a sanctions committee comprising all 15 Security Council nations to monitor implementation and report any violations to the council for possible further action.Rice’s trip to China, South Korea and Japan is the next step in the U.S. diplomatic offensive at the United Nations and with Pyongyang’s neighbors. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said “she’s going to be talking about the passage of that resolution certainly, but really what comes after.”The trip is meant to present a unified front to North Korea, which will be looking for any cracks in the diplomatic coalition behind the U.N. statement. Coming less than a month before midterm congressional elections, Rice’s trip is also an opportunity for the Bush administration to highlight its work countering dangerous regimes and terror threats.The council’s moves coincided with a Russian news agency report that North Korea favors the implementation of a year-old agreement to abandon its nuclear programs in exchange for aid and security guarantees. The ITAR-Tass news agency quoted Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev speaking after consultations in Pyongyang.The report apparently referred to an agreement reached in September 2005 at six-party talks involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan. Pyongyang has boycotted the talks for the past 13 months to protest financial measures imposed by Washington for alleged counterfeiting and money-laundering.If the Russian report is confirmed, it could signify a major breakthrough in efforts to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.—Associated Press Writers Paul Burkhardt and Ed Harris contributed to this report.
Support Local Journalism
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User