Vote To Sanction North Korea Shows "Unity of Purpose," Rice Says

By Carrie Loewenthal
Washington File Special Correspondent

Washington - The unanimous United Nations Security Council vote October 14 to impose sanctions on North Korea demonstrates a “remarkable unity of purpose and unity of message” from the international community regarding that country's nuclear activities, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718 “sends a very strong signal to North Korea that it is now completely isolated,” Rice said on FOX News Sunday October 15.

In remarks on CBS’s Face the Nation the same day, the secretary called the resolution a “powerful tool” for the international community to use to stop North Korea’s development of its nuclear arsenal and prevent the export of nuclear material from North Korea to other countries.  Rice cautioned, however, that the resolution is “a tool that needs to be used carefully,” in a way that “does not enhance the possibility for open conflict.”

Rice plans to discuss implementation of the resolution with China, Japan and South Korea during her trip to East Asia October 17-22.  The terms of resolution 1718 ban trade as well as the sale to North Korea of materials related to weapons of mass destruction (WMD).  The resolution also bans the sale of luxury goods to North Korea, and - among other provisions - freezes the funds, assets and economic resources of individuals and businesses connected with WMD programs.  Financial transactions and resources needed for food, rent or mortgages, medical supplies, insurance premiums and utility charges are exempted. (See related article.)

The secretary noted the significance of China’s agreement to impose the sanctions, saying on FOX that the resolution is the “toughest action that China has ever signed onto, vis-à-vis North Korea.”

When asked about the likelihood that China would enforce bans along its border with North Korea or press for inspections of material coming in and out of North Korea, Rice expressed certainty that China would comply with the resolution.

“China has come a very long way in being willing to sign onto a resolution that makes China now responsible to make certain that North Korea is not trading,” Rice said on CBS.  “I think that you’re going to find China carrying out its responsibilities, undoubtedly carrying it out in a way that it believes will not enhance conflict.”

Rice added that because the resolution was adopted under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, which makes the sanctions mandatory for all members, China has an obligation to enforce the prohibitions.

Resolution 1718 also contains a reference to Article 41 of Chapter VII, which only permits enforcement that does not involve the use of military force.  U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, in separate appearances on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, NBC’s Meet the Press, and CNN’s Late Edition, reiterated the United States’ desire to use diplomacy to resolve the situation in North Korea.

“What we've been trying to do here is exercise multilateral diplomacy … to accomplish the strategic objective of getting North Korea to back away from its pursuit of these kinds of weapons,” Bolton said on ABC.  The United States wants to “resolve this diplomatically and peacefully,” he said.

According to Bolton, the United States has been working with China and other countries to persuade North Korea to take the same path as Libya, which in 2003 decided to abandon its weapons of mass destruction and long-range missile programs and has reaped the benefits of participating more fully in the international community. (See related article.)

Bolton noted that Resolution 1718 emphasizes the opportunity for North Korea to return to the Six-Party Talks with South Korea, Russia, Japan, China and the United States.  He stressed on CNN that bilateral negotiations between the United States and North Korea should not occur, as the situation is not just a bilateral problem.  Rather, as demonstrated by the 15-0 Security Council vote, “this is a problem between North Korea and the rest of the world,” he said.

Rice also pointed to the importance of multilateral discussions, and said on CBS that the resolution will put pressure on North Korea to return to the Six-Party Talks, "to negotiate seriously, to implement the joint statement [signed by the six parties September 19, 2005], and to begin to reverse this course that it has been on, really, for decades.”  (See related article.)


During her interview on FOX, Rice also said that the Security Council would take steps in the coming weeks toward imposing a “cost” on Iran for its continued uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities.

The pending Security Council action follows a June resolution with which Iran failed to comply.  Iran ignored a Security Council deadline of August 31 for suspending its uranium enrichment activities, a precondition for the resumption of negotiations on Iran's nuclear program and discussions about possible international assistance in building an Iranian civilian nuclear energy program.  Iran has also failed to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has deemed the country’s uranium reprocessing unacceptable.  (See related article.)

Further attempts at diplomacy, led by European Union negotiator Javier Solana, have also proven unsuccessful, Rice said, leading to the need for new talks about sanctions.  The effort will remain a multilateral one, and “not just a U.S. effort,” she said.

Bolton, in his remarks on CNN, warned Iran not to look to North Korea as an example of how to behave. He said that if Iran continues to pursue nuclear weapons, it “will face the same kind of isolation and restrictions that we've just imposed on the North Koreans.”

“The Iranians ... could have dialogue with the United States. They could enjoy a completely different relationship with the United States if they would suspend their uranium enrichment activities,” he said.

"This is an unparalleled offer that President Bush's administration has made that the Iranians spurned because they seemed to be obsessed with the idea of getting nuclear weapons. And as long as they pursue that course, we'll have to respond accordingly," he continued.

Transcripts of Rice’s interviews with FOX News Sunday and CBS's Face the Nation are available on the State Department Web site.

A transcript of Bolton's remarks on CNN's Late Edition is available on the network's Web site.

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