Support Grows for North Korea Sanctions, U.N. Envoy Bolton Says

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations - The United States continues to press for a Security Council vote to impose sanctions on North Korea for its October 9 reported nuclear test.

Meeting October 12, the council's 15 members discussed a draft resolution circulated by the United States.  The proposed resolution, the second that the United States has submitted, would ban trade in materials with direct or dual use applications for weapons of mass destruction, military goods and services, and luxury goods.  The resolution also would allow other states to inspect cargo shipped to or from North Korea, and would freeze the assets of individuals or entities providing support to North Korea's nuclear or ballistic missile programs.

"There is still very strong support, growing support to get a resolution ... to send a strong message and to take operational steps" against North Korea, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton told journalists October 12 following the meeting.  "It is still our hope and expectation that we can have a vote by the end of the week."

North Korea claims it conducted a successful nuclear test on October 9. The U.S. Geological Survey confirmed a 4.2-magnitude seismic event occurred about 385 kilometers northeast of Pyongyang, North Korea, but sufficient data to determine whether a nuclear blast was the cause of this seismic activity are not yet available. (See related article.)

Four council members - France, Japan, Slovakia and the United Kingdom - signed on as co-sponsors of the resolution.

Bolton said the five permanent members of the council - China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States - are not unanimous on the text of the resolution.  Negotiations will continue, he said, but not at the cost of delaying the vote or failing to send a "swift and strong response." 

"The council should try to respond to a nuclear test within the same week that the test occurred.  I don't think that is too much to ask for," the ambassador said.

The five permanent members hold veto power and can block any resolution.  However, permanent members often will abstain rather than cast a veto, as was the case in late August when Russia and China abstained on the expansion of the U.N. peacekeeping mission into Darfur.

The draft resolution would be enacted under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which includes a variety of measures to address threats to international peace and conflicts, including breaking diplomatic relations, imposing naval blockades and taking military action.

Bolton stressed that such language does not authorize the use of force, but is the "traditional way the Security Council expresses its intention to have a binding resolution."

"The phrase 'acting under Chapter 7 of the Charter' is a way of denoting that the full panoply of the Security Council's weight has been thrown behind the resolution" and is "a phrase we need in the arsenal of the Security Council," he said.  "It would require a separate resolution, if one were needed, to authorize force."

As an example, Bolton cited Security Council Resolution 661, which imposed an embargo on Iraq for the invasion of Kuwait in August 1990.  The council later passed Resolution 665 authorizing the use of force to enforce those sanctions and Resolution 678 authorizing the use of force to expel Iraq from Kuwait.

Japanese Ambassador Kenzo Oshima, president of the Security Council for October, said the members "emphasized the need for the council to act in unity as well as the need to take swift action."

Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya said that "there are common objectives unifying all council members that we should send a strong clear message."  But he said talks still were needed to determine language that would provide room for more diplomatic efforts.

Bolton said the United States is "very much in favor of keeping all the diplomatic channels open.  Nevertheless, he said, "we shouldn't allow more meetings and more meetings to be an excuse for inaction."


In Washington, President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with China State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan to discuss the North Korean issue.

Speaking October 12 with Hungarian Foreign Minister Kinga Goncz, Rice said after her talks with Tang that, "the Chinese clearly understand the gravity of this situation."

Rice said, "They clearly understand that the North Koreans, in doing this [test], have made the environment much less stable and much less secure," and expressed her belief that the U.N. resolution will demonstrate that "the international community is very much united in its condemnation of this test."

Deputy National Security Advisor J.D. Crouch told reporters traveling with President Bush to St. Louis that the "broad-ranging" discussions between Tang and U.S. officials concerned both U.N. action and efforts to resolve the issue diplomatically, including the need to get North Korea to implement its commitments under the declaration of principles Pyongyang signed on September 19, 2005, in which it promised to end its nuclear weapons program and rejoin the Non-Proliferation Treaty. (See related article.)

"[T]he Chinese came with a message that they agree that there had to be some strong measures that were taken to convince the North Koreans to get back on a positive negotiating track," Crouch said.

He added that, although the two sides did not have "a detailed discussion of specific elements of the resolution," there was "a broad understanding that there needed to be strong response," adding that the details of the resolution will need to be negotiated between all the Security Council members.

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