By Peter S. Green and Bill Varner
June 13 (Bloomberg) -- China warned about the dangers involved in inspecting North Korean cargo under United Nations Security Council sanctions approved yesterday, saying countries intercepting vessels should avoid armed action.
“Under no circumstance should there be the use of force or the threat of use of force” in implementing the sanctions in Resolution 1874, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yesui said in New York. Inspecting vessels carrying North Korean cargo is “complicated” and “sensitive,” he said.
The Security Council voted 15 to O to punish North Korea for its May nuclear-bomb test and missile launches. The resolution authorizes stepped-up inspection of air or sea cargoes suspected of being destined for the development of nuclear arms or ballistic missiles. The measure also calls for new restrictions on loans and money transfers to North Korea.
China’s support for the penalties may be significant given its close political and trade ties with the reclusive North Korean regime of Kim Jong Il. The U.S. is especially concerned about preventing North Korea from selling its nuclear technology to other countries.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said at a White House briefing that the sanctions have “teeth that will bite.” She pointed out that the resolution doesn’t authorize the use of military force.
The U.S. is prepared to “confront” a vessel suspected of carrying an illegal shipment and attempt to board it “consensually,” Rice told reporters. If the crew refuses a boarding or to go to a nearby port for an inspection, the U.S. would make clear “whose vessel it is” and the likely cargo, “to shine a spotlight on it, to make it very difficult for that contraband to continue to be carried forward,” Rice added.
China, Russia Support
The UN vote followed almost three weeks of negotiations on tighter sanctions that began when North Korea detonated a suspected nuclear device on May 25, voided the 1953 armistice ending the Korean War and tested several missiles. Accord on the text by China and Russia, which have resisted sanctions, led to the Security Council consensus.
“The additional measures are substantive and targeted in nature and clearly tied to ending the DPRK program to create nuclear missiles,” Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said after the vote. “The attempt by the DPRK to create nuclear missiles not only doesn’t strengthen security but on the contrary ratchets up tension on the Korean peninsula.”
Churkin said his country was satisfied by the unanimous adoption of the resolution against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK. He said the Russians made sure that the provisions for checking ships on the high seas wouldn’t set a precedent, and that he hoped the resolution would steer North Korea back to six-party nuclear disarmament talks.
“It is significant that China and Russia are willing to increase the language on interdiction and financial sanctions, but the resolution will not have that much bite if there is no implementation,” Nicholas Szechenyi of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies said.
Szechenyi said that while enforcement by China is critical to the resolution’s effectiveness, the government in Beijing likely will be reluctant to further provoke North Korea in the midst of a tenuous political situation involving the possible succession to Kim’s dictatorship.
“Though North Korea’s recent behavior has angered the Chinese, causing them to lose face, you might suspect they would opt against enforcing the strongest measures,” Szechenyi said. “I would not expect them to take the lead and, without that, this is something that North Korea could well ignore.”
Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, the American special envoy on North Korea, said this week that China is “acutely concerned about what North Korea is doing,” and that the U.S. is satisfied that China is working to rein in North Korea’s behavior.
The measure “cuts off a significant source of funding for the North Korean nuclear and missile programs,” said Philip Parham, U.K. deputy envoy to the UN. “This is not directed against trade and should have no effect on the already hard- pressed people of North Korea.”
The UN’s previously adopted embargo on tanks, artillery and other heavy weapons would be expanded, and the measure asks for vigilance in the sale of light arms to the regime.
On the money front, member nations are urged “not to enter into new commitments for grants, financial assistance, or concessional loans,” or to “provide public financial support for trade” with North Korea.
If North Korea reacts to the strengthened sanctions by testing a third nuclear device or launching another long-range missile, “we’d take it badly,” Parham said.
The resolution “condemns” the May 25 detonation, and demands that North Korea halt its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The government in Pyongyang also should remain a part to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and rejoin talks with China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and the U.S.
Bosworth said this week that the U.S. is considering targeting North Korean financial deposits held in other countries as part of the effort to compel the regime to change its behavior.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bill Varner at the United Nations at firstname.lastname@example.org; Peter S. Green in New York at email@example.com.
Last Updated: June 12, 2009 18:06 EDT