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(News Focus) U.N. action on N. Korea late yet meaningful: official
By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 (Yonhap) -- The U.N. response Tuesday to North Korea's December rocket launch is long overdue but significant in both format and content, officials in Washington said Tuesday.

   Still, the key question remains whether it will be fully implemented, given China's practice of refusing to push the communist neighbor too hard.

   The U.N. Security Council produced a resolution against North Korea 42 days after its long-range rocket launch, which Pyongyang claimed was part of a peaceful space program. However, the U.S. and its allies regard the launch as a cover for the test of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

   The U.N. Resolution 2807 condemned the launch using ballistic missile technology, saying it was in violation of two existing resolutions on Pyongyang.

   The binding measure also calls for the asset freeze of six additional North Korean entities, including the one in charge of the rocket launch, and imposes a travel ban on four more officials.

   The council's adoption of a resolution on Pyongyang for a rocket launch is quite extraordinary. For a couple of previous launches, the 15-member council issued non-binding chairman's statements condemning those acts.

   "(Producing the new resolution) was a tough process," a South Korean official here said on the condition of anonymity. "It's a result of a lengthy tug-of-war. What is important is that the international community produced a unified and clear voice against North Korea's rocket launch."

   Considering the characteristics of the U.N. diplomacy, it's extremely difficult to get a binding sanctions resolution, he added.

   "If we sought another chairman's statement, it would have come far earlier," the official said.

  Initially, skepticism was also palpable amid China's uncooperative stance in the early weeks of discussions.

   China, a veto-wielding member of the council, has been traditionally reluctant to push North Korea too hard, apparently mindful of the serious impact to the communist neighbor's politics and economy.

   South Korea, a member of the U.N. council, has been persistent in calling for a strong measure against North Korea, leading to the broadening of sanctions and the strengthening of existing ones.

  But the effectiveness of such a new step remains questionable. Although China finally backed the resolution, the country - a strong ally of North Korea -- is expected to remain uncooperative in carrying out sanctions.

   "It seems like China just wanted to complete the process before South Korea takes the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council next month," a source said. "Implementing the resolution is a different matter."

   lcd@yna.co.kr
leechidong@gmail.com
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