UN council to vote on DPRK sanctions
Updated: 2013-03-06 11:40
By Zhang Yuwei at the United Nations (China Daily)
The United Nations Security Council is set to vote on Thursday on a US-proposed draft resolution that would impose the toughest sanctions to date against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea over its nuclear and ballistic-missile programs.
The decision was reached after a closed-door meeting on Tuesday morning at which the 15-memebr council discussed the draft. According to Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, it would be the first resolution that "targets North Korean diplomatic personnel, North Korean banking relationships (and) illicit transfers of bulk cash".
The DPRK "will be subject to some of the toughest sanctions imposed by the United Nations", Rice told reporters after the council meeting.
"The breadth and scope of these sanctions is exceptional and demonstrates the strength of the international community's commitment to denuclearization and the demand that North Korea comply with its international obligations," she said.
The draft document follows a previous resolution (No 2087) that called for Pyongyang to abide by all relevant resolutions previously adopted by the council by ending the use of ballistic-missile technology.
The document to be voted on Thursday, according to UN diplomats, is in response to DPRK's third nuclear test, conducted on Feb 12.
That was the first definitive missile test carried out by the DPRK since Kim Jong-un inherited power in December 2011 after the death of his father, leader Kim Jong-il. The country launched two other missiles, in 2006 and 2009, drawing widespread condemnation.
In December, the DPRK launched into orbit an Earth-observation satellite, which international observers, including UN member governments, classified as involving a ballistic missile. The successful launch followed the post-liftoff disintegration in April 2012 of a rocket, described by the US and its allies as a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Diplomats said Tuesday's closed-door discussion at the UN was highlighted by consultations between the US and China - two of the five permanent members of the Security Council. The two have been consulting over the proposed draft for weeks since the DPRK's February test.
"We have had particularly good bilateral cooperation with China in this regard, as well as other members of the P5 - of course, the Republic of Korea, Japan and all members of the Security Council," Rice told reporters. (The P5, or permanent members of the council, also includes Britain, France and Russia.)
Rice said the outcome of the meeting "reflects the unity of the council" and its "continued credibility".
"It is an unusual step - if not an unprecedented step - for this council to respond to yet another missile launch with a resolution, which we think is not only important in form, but very significant in its substance," the US diplomat said.
Li Baodong, China's permanent representative to the UN, said his country would support action by the council as long as it is "proportionate and balanced".
Also on Tuesday, the DPRK's supreme military command said the country would nullify the Korean War armistice agreement next Monday - the same day joint military drills between US and Republic of Korea forces are scheduled to begin.
The armistice, signed in 1953 to end the Korean War, is intended to ensure "complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peaceful settlement is achieved". Because the 1950-1953 conflict ended without a peace treaty being signed, the Korean Peninsula is still technically in a state of war.
A spokesman for the Korean People's Army said on state television that the DPRK would carry out more and stronger countermeasures in response
to ongoing US-ROK military exercises and other "hostile" policies.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a ROK diplomat, described the statement as "very provocative rhetoric".
"I strongly urge the Pyongyang authorities to reverse course to build trust that will lead to durable peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula," Ban told reporters on Tuesday.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the DPRK "keeps choosing to make belligerent and reckless moves that threaten the region, their neighbors and now, directly, the United States of America." He urged Pyongyang to resume talks aimed at reducing tensions.
"So it's very easy for Kim Jong-un to prove his good intent here also," Kerry told CNN in an interview in Qatar, where he was on an official visit. "Just don't fire the next missile, don't have the next test. Say you're ready to talk and invite those talks, and people would be prepared to engage in that conversation, I'm convinced."
(China Daily 03/06/2013 page1)