U.S. Urges Security Council Send Strong Signal to North Korea

By Susan Krause
Washington File Staff Writer

United Nations - A proposed resolution drafted by Japan that would impose sanctions on North Korea for its July 4 ballistic missile tests has "broad and deep" support in the U.N. Security Council, despite some differences in views among members, says U.S. Ambassador John Bolton. 

On July 4, North Korea fired six missiles, including Scud-type and Nodong short- to medium-range missiles capable of reaching Japan and a Taepodong-2 long-range missile capable of reaching the United States. (See related article.)

Speaking to reporters July 6, Bolton said it was essential to send a strong signal to North Korea.

"I think it's important that the Security Council speak under Chapter VII to make a binding resolution," he said. 

Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter defines the Security Council's peacekeeping powers and authorizes the council to "determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression" and to take action accordingly to "restore international peace and security."  

"This is very different from the circumstances in 1998, when the council responded simply with a press statement," Bolton said, referring to North Korea's first launch of a long-range ballistic missile with nuclear capability.  

The ambassador called the 1998 statement "very weak."

"I think the circumstances now are such that, with North Korea a declared nuclear weapons power, obviously intent on trying to intimidate its neighbors in the region and others, that this is a test of the Security Council."

Bolton said the council's negotiations would show whether it was up to the challenge. 

Of the 15 member nations on the council, he said, 13 support the Japanese draft resolution, which calls for restrictions on the transfer of financial resources, technology and other goods that could contribute to North Korea's missile program. 

Russia and China object to the imposition of sanctions, favoring instead the adoption of a weaker nonbinding statement.

China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States are permanent members of the council with veto power.  The 10 nonpermanent members currently on the council are Argentina, Congo, Denmark, Ghana, Greece, Japan, Peru, Qatar, Slovakia and Tanzania.

Bolton acknowledged that there "may be disagreement at the moment over the vehicle we use here in the council."  But none of the five permanent members has threatened to veto the resolution, he said. 

"[C]ountries that don't like the text are always free to abstain," Bolton said.

Pressed on how much impact the Security Council could have, given a July 6 statement from North Korea's official news agency promising additional tests, Bolton said it would depend on the course of action the council takes.  

"[T]he thrust of what we're trying to do is identifying the risk posed in the region and in the wider world about a North Korea with ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads," he said.  "I think it's important that people see the breadth of concern and opposition to what the North Koreans have done."

No one on the Security Council is speaking in favor of North Korea's actions, Bolton emphasized.

"Nobody says it was a good thing that North Korea launched these missiles," he said.  "And I think that if North Korea continues to do it, it will simply underline the views that all countries on the Security Council have already taken."

For more information on U.S. policies, see The U.S. and the Korean Peninsula.