U.N. Security Council Making Progress on North Korea Sanctions

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations - Diplomats negotiating a Security Council resolution that would impose sanctions on North Korea for its reported nuclear test called the talks positive, saying many areas of agreement have been reached.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said that after two sessions on October 10, the five permanent Security Council members and Japan have made "substantial progress" on the U.S. draft resolution.  "We're continuing to move ahead."

Early on the morning of October 9, the United States and South Korea detected a "seismic event" at a suspected nuclear test site in North Korea, according to the White House. North Korea claimed that it conducted an underground nuclear test. (See related article.)

Bolton said discussion thus far show that all nations "want both a strong resolution and a swift response by the council.  We don't want a trade-off between those two variables; we want both."

Citing "convergence on many issues,” he said, "I'm pleased by the positive nature of the discussions and look forward to more progress tomorrow.” Those discussions are being held at the ambassadorial level, not the legal or so-called "experts level," in order to deal with policy issues, the ambassador added.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin offered “supportive” comments on the proposed measures, Bolton said.  British and French diplomats also characterized the sessions as positive, while Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya indicated to journalists that China would be willing to agree to some portions of the resolution falling under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which provides for enforcement measures.

China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States are permanent members of the Security Council, with veto power over any resolution.

Japanese Ambassador Kenzo Oshima, the current president of the Security Council, called the sessions "good and productive," adding that "we all have some instructions from capitals which enable us to go into details and specifics of the draft resolution."


The U.S. draft resolution would prohibit trade with North Korea in all materials with direct or dual-use application for all chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic missile (weapons of mass destruction or WMD) programs and would prohibit financial transactions that support missile activities.

The U.S. draft also would require nations to take steps necessary to ensure their territories are not used to facilitate WMD related activities, prevent the abuse of financial systems, and freeze assets and transactions associated with WMD programs. In addition, the U.S. draft also would authorize international inspection of cargo to and from North Korea to limit proliferation and prohibit trade in all military goods and services and luxury goods.

Japan has submitted additional proposals, including a travel ban for high-ranking North Korean officials.

In the draft resolution, the United States provided "a clear humanitarian exemption for the sanctions," according to Bolton. The measure is designed “to go after North Korea's programs of weapons of mass destruction - nuclear, chemical, biological weapons and ballistic missile programs - as well as their illicit activities such as counterfeiting and drug running and other kinds of activities," the ambassador said.

Proceeds from those activities "do not do anything to benefit the oppressed people of North Korea but benefit the elite, help preserve the regime in power, and support their WMD programs," he said.

Bolton added that properly designed and implemented sanctions have been successful in changing polices in the past, such as "the sanctions regime that helped persuade Libya after a sustained period to give up its own pursuit of weapons of mass destruction."

The permanent Security Council members and Japan have scheduled meetings for October 11.


The Bush administration also reiterated its opposition to holding bilateral discussions with North Korea outside the framework of the Six-Party Talks.

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow told reporters in Washington that the six-party format has created "a more promising mechanism" for dealing with the North Korean government than existed in the past.  Countries like China, South Korea and Japan, all of which have direct leverage over the North Korean government, are "fully invested as equal partners," Snow said.

"[T]he people who can turn the spigots economically and politically are now fully engaged and invested in this. That was not the case in the 1990s. It was not the case earlier in this decade. It is the case now," Snow said.

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

White House correspondent Stephen Kaufman contributed to this article.