China key to new resolution on N Korea
As North Korea continues to reiterate threats of dangerous and reckless acts, China is set to play a large and important role in keeping the reclusive state in check.
The UN Security Council will soon vote on a draft resolution regarding North Korea’s second nuclear test that will contain stricter financial sanctions and inspections of North Korean cargo.
The draft resolution was agreed by seven nations: The five permanent Security Council members of Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States; Japan, which is a Security Council nonpermanent member; and South Korea, which is not a Security Council member.
The Security Council should adopt the draft resolution quickly and unanimously as a display of the international community’s strong resolve over North Korea.
Resolution 1718 too weak
Three years ago, when North Korea conducted its first nuclear test, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1718, which called for Pyongyang to refrain from nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches. The resolution also banned the transfer and supply of items linked to the development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, as well as banning the import of luxury items.
That North Korea has behaved in blatant violation of the 2006 resolution by launching ballistic missiles and conducting another nuclear test shows that sanctions were not thoroughly implemented and that the 2006 resolution existed in name only.
North Korea appears to be stepping up its provocative acts by announcing that it will conduct more nuclear tests and launch more long-range ballistic missiles. A firm international stance is needed to rein in North Korea, which is aiming at creating a fait accompli for possessing nuclear weapons.
Regarding cargo heading to and from North Korea, the draft resolution calls for UN member nations to inspect vessels suspected of carrying banned items within their territories, including at sea ports and airports. The draft resolution gives permission for cargo inspections on the high seas if the country whose flag the vessel is flying gives approval.
The draft does not outline specific obligations for each country or allow for mandatory inspections on the high seas. However, the draft carries more definitive clauses than that of Resolution 1718, which asks countries to comply with sanctions if required.
Compromise still step forward
China’s involvement is absolutely indispensable, as that nation is North Korea’s largest trading partner and shares a border. We hope that China will be proactive.
The draft, meanwhile, would implement financial sanctions by not only freezing financial transactions and assets of North Korean entities and individuals to stop them from contributing to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile development, but it also would restrict any new loans or financial assistance to North Korea.
While Japan and the United States sought the inclusion of stricter sanctions in the draft resolution, China maintained its cautious stance. The draft resolution is thus the product of compromise between the three nations. However, its contents should be regarded as a step forward.
What is important hereafter is the resolution’s steady implementation. Japan must waste no time in introducing national legislation for carrying out vessel inspections.
Speculation over who will succeed Kim Jong Il as North Korea’s leader also has drawn much attention, and North Korea has been adopting more hard-line policies that place priority on the military. Concerns over Kim’s health may underlie this shift. A closer eye needs to be kept on the shaky state of North Korea.