U.S. Pushes U.N. Draft on N. Korea

By Colum Lynch and Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, June 6, 2009

UNITED NATIONS, June 5 -- The United States and its allies are pressing for the Security Council to adopt a U.N. resolution that would further restrain North Korea's capacity to finance its military ambitions.

The resolution would also urge states to seize cargo suspected of being used to support North Korea's ballistic-missile or nuclear weapons programs. But China is blocking approval, on the grounds that some of the toughest provisions are too provocative, according to diplomats.

The negotiations on new sanctions, which will continue through the weekend, come nearly two weeks after North Korea launched its second underground nuclear test. That was quickly followed by a series of missile test launches that have rattled its neighbors and complicated U.S. efforts to resume nuclear talks with the North.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley confirmed yesterday that the United States was considering targeting North Korea's access to financial markets. A draft of the resolution urges U.N. member states to cut loans, financial assistance and grants to North Korea and its suppliers for programs linked to its military program. The draft also expands an asset freeze and travel ban.

The Bush administration applied similar financial pressure in 2005, infuriating Pyongyang. Crowley noted that, during a tour of Asian capitals this week, Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg was accompanied by Treasury Undersecretary Stuart A. Levey, the architect of the Bush-era sanctions.

"Obviously, Stuart Levey's presence on this team would indicate that we're . . . looking at other ways that we can bilaterally put pressure on North Korea to return to the negotiating process," Crowley said.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday that the United States has "made considerable progress" in its negotiations on a resolution. But she also said that the United States and its allies "stand ready to resume negotiations with the North Koreans over their nuclear program."

At the United Nations, the United States on Thursday circulated a draft of the resolution to key Security Council members. The measure -- which is backed by Japan, South Korea, Britain and France -- condemns the North's latest nuclear test and demands that it not conduct any further nuclear or missile tests.

One of the most controversial sections would require U.N. members to inspect all North Korean cargo passing through airports and seaports if there are "reasonable grounds" to believe that it contains banned equipment, and if the inspections are compatible with international law. It would also authorize states to inspect ships at sea, as long as they have the consent of the flag state, and to "seize and dispose" of banned military equipment.

The draft was posted online by Inner City Press. A Security Council diplomat verified its authenticity.

Kessler reported from Washington.

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