Stronger Resolution Offered on N. Korea

By Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 8, 2006

UNITED NATIONS, July 7 -- Japan presented the Security Council on Friday with a tough revised draft resolution that would condemn North Korea's missile tests and ban states from supplying or buying goods or technology that could help Pyongyang upgrade its ballistic missile program or advance its nuclear weapons program. The resolution is backed by the United States and European allies, over Chinese and Russian concerns that it will exacerbate tensions in the region, according to U.N. diplomats.

The draft resolution demands that North Korea immediately recommit itself to a 1998 moratorium on ballistic missile tests and return to six-nation talks aimed at persuading Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

The move sets the stage for a diplomatic standoff over the United Nations' response to North Korea's launch on Tuesday of at least seven missiles. China's ambassador, Wang Guangya, warned the council in a closed-door meeting that a vote on the sanctions resolution would "destroy" the prospects for a unified response to the missile tests, according to a council diplomat reading from notes of the session.

Pyongyang threatened to use "stronger physical actions" against Japan, according to Japan's Kyodo news service, quoting Song Il Ho, North Korea's ambassador in charge of diplomatic normalization talks with Japan.

Kenzo Oshima, Japan's U.N. ambassador, said he hopes to call for a vote on Saturday. But President Bush said he is prepared to give diplomacy time, even though the process is "slow and cumbersome."

"We are very pleased with this draft," said John R. Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. "It provides for very strong restraints on the DPRK [the Democratic People's Republic of Korea] missile programs, very strong constraints on giving any assistance to their missile or WMD [Weapons of Mass Destruction] programs."

Bolton said that Washington and its allies are receptive to further negotiations with Beijing and Moscow. The two governments signaled that they would consider supporting a strong condemnation of North Korea's action in a nonbinding council statement without the threat of sanctions.

"We need a unanimous firm response" from the Security Council, "and for my delegation and for a number of others we feel the best way to achieve that is through a PRST [presidential statement] with strong messages," Wang said.

Diplomats said they expect a flurry of high-level talks over the direction of the council's North Korea policy. But Bolton and others have expressed confidence they have the support of 13 of the council's 15 members for a binding resolution under Chapter Seven of the U.N. Charter, a provision that can be enforced by sanctions or, in some cases, the use of military force.

"We're going to have a resolution under Chapter Seven," Bolton insisted.

U.S. and European officials remain confident that Russia and China will not veto the resolution. But China's ambassador said that "all options are open." Chinese officials say that they want to delay action on a resolution until a senior Chinese envoy, Vice Premier Hui Liangyu, travels to Pyongyang in an attempt to persuade North Korea to back down. Friday's draft resolution essentially would place a legal prohibition on North Korea's missile trade and institute a trade embargo on countries, companies or individuals that supply North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons program.

There is no international prohibition on the development or testing of ballistic missiles. A group of major countries that supply missile technology -- the Missile Technology Control Regime -- observes a voluntary ban on sales to nonmembers such as North Korea.

Analysts said that the resolution would strengthen the international community's legal basis for combating the proliferation of deadly weapons and missiles to rogue states but that it would have limited practical impact. Michael E. O'Hanlon, a North Korea expert at the Brookings Institution, said that the resolution would not have "much operational impact" because there is no system for verifying or monitoring compliance.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company