Security Council Votes to Sanction North Korea
The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Saturday to impose sanctions that target North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs in response to its multiple missile tests this month.
North Korean Ambassador Pak Gil Yon immediately rejected the resolution and condemned it as a “despicable” attempt to isolate his country. He said the army would continue missile launches, and then walked out of the council chamber, which could foreshadow more tense confrontations with the country.
The resolution requires that all United Nations member states “exercise vigilance” to prevent any transfer to or from North Korea of missiles or materials that could be used in weapons of mass destruction. It also demands that North Korea suspend its missile program, reestablish its moratorium on missile launches and return to six-party disarmament talks without preconditions.
“The council has acted swiftly and robustly in response to the reckless and condemnable act of the DPRK in launching the barrage of ballistic missiles,” Japan’s deputy foreign minister, Shintaro Abe, said after the vote. North Korea’s official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
China and Russia finally backed the resolution after 11 days of wrangling and the use of an innovative mechanism to make the resolution mandatory without opening the door to military action. China had threatened a veto if the measure invoked Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which makes the resolution compulsory and allows the use of force to implement it.
But Britain and France proposed language that would make the resolution legally binding without using Chapter 7, saying the council was “acting under its special responsibility to maintain international peace and security.”
China also had objected to voting for a resolution sponsored by Japan, its regional rival, but agreed to back a “presidential text” supported by all 15 members of the council, according to diplomats.
Despite international warnings, North Korea fired seven missiles on July 5, including a long-range Taepodong 2 missile, which theoretically can to reach U.S. territory. The Taepodong 2 fell into the Sea of Japan about 40 seconds after its launch.
The tests alarmed Japan, which immediately called for punitive action by the Security Council.
But China and Russia did not respond immediately, concerned about further alienating North Korea when they were trying to steer Pyongyang back to disarmament talks.
China, North Korea’s neighbor and grudging ally, dispatched senior officials Monday to urge Pyongyang to come back to the table and to stop launching missiles. When North Korean leader Kim Jong Il apparently rebuffed the delegation, the Security Council pushed ahead with the resolution.
Japan’s Kyodo News agency reported Saturday that the Chinese government mission had returned with a message from Kim, though it gave no details.
But Ambassador Pak’s reaction Saturday in the Security Council made it clear that North Korea was not in a conciliatory mood. He sat rigidly in the chamber, listening to criticism of North Korea’s “provocation” with folded arms, a stony face and his eyes cast down.
When it was his turn to speak, Pak said that North Korea “resolutely condemns the attempt of some countries to misuse the Security Council for the despicable political aim to isolate and put pressure on the DPRK, and totally rejects the resolution which was adopted at the current meeting of the Security Council.”
Pak said the missile tests were routine military exercises done in self-defense and would continue because they did not violate any international laws.
He also said North Korea considered agreements with the United States and a 2005 moratorium on missile tests to be invalid because the other parties had not held up their end of the agreements.
U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton looked directly at Pak when he stood to speak, and matched North Korea’s pledge to continue missile launches with a pledge to bring the country back to the Security Council.
“We hope that North Korea makes the strategic decision that the pursuit of WMD programs and threatening acts like these missile launches make it less, not more, secure,” Bolton said.
“We need to be prepared, though, that North Korea might choose a different path. This is why it is important that if the DPRK does not comply with the requirements of this resolution, the United States and other member states have the opportunity at any point to return to the council for further action.”