United States Seeks Firm Security Council Stand on North Korea

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations - The United States is pressing the Security Council to issue a strong statement outlining a clear, broad, strategic approach to North Korea's threat to test nuclear weapons.

After a three-hour closed-door council meeting October 4, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said that "at this stage, there's division" in the council on what the official reaction should be.  He added that the 15-nation council is facing "an important decision."

"It is extremely important for the Security Council to develop an effective course of preventive diplomacy to try and dissuade North Korea from conducting that test," the ambassador said.

Bolton said he was proposing a three-step "effective, preventive diplomacy" approach.

"We need to make it clear that the threat has to be withdrawn. Step one," the ambassador said.  "Step two: We need to move North Korea back into compliance with its commitment in September 2005 in the Six-Party Talks to come back to the Six-Party Talks, to rejoin the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty .…" (See related article.)

For the third measure, Bolton said, the council needs to define a clear "road map" that will show North Korea that proceeding with the test will lead to a Chapter 7 resolution imposing sanctions and other measures.

The ambassador emphasized that the United States sees North Korea's announcement as a serious threat.  "We don't think this is a diplomatic ploy or an attention-getting device," he said.

"So it is going to be quite important for the council to speak very firmly and very resolutely on this and not just in a knee-jerk reaction with another piece of paper," Bolton said.

"I fear that if we don't have a strong response now to this clear signal from the North Koreans on what they intend to do that they will misread the council; they will misread a weak press statement or presidential statement as meaning that their protectors within the council have made it clear that the council cannot act effectively," Bolton said. 

The council scheduled an afternoon meeting at the so-called "experts level" to begin reviewing a statement drafted by Japan, which holds the presidency of the Security Council in October.

Japanese Ambassador Kenzo Oshima said that all members recognize that the council must "give a quick and swift, clear, strong message."

Although there might be differing approaches as to how that is done, "everybody knows that this is an extremely complex issue we are dealing with, a regime which is internationally isolated, a hardened regime, not an easy government to deal with," Oshima said.

Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya said there is no division in the council on the seriousness of the situation.  "For bad behavior in this world, no one is going to protect them," he said, adding that all council members support the idea that the Six-Party Talks should be the main channel to address the issue.

Nevertheless, Wang said that he had no instructions from his government on how to proceed in the Security Council negotiations.

In Washington, State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said that "the Security Council has proven in the past that it treats threats from North Korea seriously.  Resolution 1695 is proof of that."

"We certainly hope to see some action there in the near future and will be continuing to work both bilaterally and multilaterally with our partners in the region, in Europe, and elsewhere to try and convince North Korea to do the right thing, and the right thing is to end these kind of provocations and end these kind of threats and go back to the Six-Party Talks," Casey said.

In response to North Korea's ballistic missile tests in July, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1695 demanding that North Korea suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program and requiring U.N. member states to refrain from trading with Pyongyang on missile-related goods and technology. (See related article.)

For more information on U.S. policy, see The U.S. and the Korean Peninsula and Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.