select languages
NorthKorea_titleN.K. NewsletterVantagePointlmenu_bottom
latestnewslatestnews RSS
Home > NorthKorea
NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 246 (January 24, 2013)
*** TOPIC OF THE WEEK (Part 1)

U.N. Security Council Expands Sanctions on N. Korea for Rocket Launch

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- The U.N. Security Council in New York adopted a resolution against North Korea on Jan. 22, condemning its December rocket launch through expanding sanctions. The resolution, proposed by the United States and passed unanimously by the 15-nation council, condemned North Korea for what it said was a "ballistic missile technology" test on Dec. 12.

   North Korea reacted swiftly to the U.N. punishment, warning that the regime would push ahead with strengthening its defenses including its nuclear weapons program, inflaming concerns that Pyongyang may conduct another atomic test. But the council threatened "significant action" if it stages a third nuclear test.

   North Korea also reacted defiantly against the addition of its state space agency, a bank, four trading companies and four individuals to the U.N. sanctions list as punishment for the launch.

   The council "demands that the DPRK (North Korea) not proceed with any further launches using ballistic missile technology," according to the resolution.

   It also warned of "significant action" in the event of a further launch or nuclear test by North Korea.

   A wide web of bilateral and multilateral sanctions is already in place against North Korea. The council introduced two strongly worded resolutions, 1718 and 1874, after Pyongyang's nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, respectively.

   This is the first time since 2006 that the council has introduced a resolution against North Korea for a rocket launch. For the two previous launches, the council issued non-binding presidential statements denouncing the acts.

   The United States and China held weeks of top-level negotiations over the international response before the resolution was submitted to the council for a vote.

   The U.S. government had sought tough measures against Pyongyang, while China has sought to shield its ally against sanctions.

   After the sanctions were passed, U.S. ambassador Susan Rice said the resolution was a sign that North Korea will have "an increasingly steep price" to pay if it chooses to be confrontational with the international community.

   China's U.N. envoy Li Baodong called for greater diplomatic efforts to halt North Korea's weapons program, an issue which is a major concern to neighboring South Korea and Japan.

   The Security Council demanded that the North suspend "all activities related to its ballistic missile program" and resume a moratorium on missile launches.

   It also demanded that the North "abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner."

   The council "expresses its determination to take significant action in the event of a further DPRK launch or nuclear test," added the resolution.

   The (North) Korean Committee for Space Technology, the government agency which organized the rocket launch, topped the list of new bodies sanctioned.

   The list also included Bank of East Land, which the resolution said had been used to transfer funds "in a manner that circumvents sanctions" and had dealt with banks in Iran that also face U.N. sanctions.

   Korea Kumryong Trading Corporation, Tosong Technology Trading Corporation, Korea Ryonha Machinery Joint Venture Corporation and Leader (Hong Kong) International were also added to the list.

   All were accused of procuring equipment for North Korea's nuclear and missile programs development or of exporting and dealing in arms.

   The four individuals placed on the list were all involved in North Korea's technology development or bank officials. The resolution deplored the North's use of "bulk cash" to avoid sanctions.

   "This resolution demonstrates to North Korea that there are unanimous and significant consequences for its flagrant violation" of previous resolutions, Rice told reporters.

   She said the new measures would "concretely help to impede the growth of North Korea's WMD (weapons of mass destruction) program and reduce the threat of proliferation."

   She said the United States wanted "credible negotiations" with Pyongyang but warned the resolution "makes clear that there will be an increasingly steep price to pay if North Korea again chooses confrontation with this council and the international community."

   Shortly after the sanctions were passed, North Korea's foreign ministry said, "The country will take physical actions to strengthen self-defense military capabilities including nuclear deterrence," adding that measures can be taken to completely eliminate the source of hostile action and that the North is fully committed to taking a firm stance.

   "Due to the U.S.'s worsening policy of hostility toward North Korea, the six-party talks and the joint September 19 statement were rendered null and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was put to an end," the North's foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

   "There will be no more discussion over denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in the future although there will be talks for securing peace and security in the peninsula," according to the statement.

   The comments can be interpreted as a sign that Pyongyang may engage in another nuclear test that could trigger harsher responses by the international community.

   Besides the KCNA report, Pyongyang's radio stations, which broadcast to both domestic and overseas listeners, started carrying the foreign ministry statement starting at 7:10 a.m. on Jan. 23.

   Although it made no explicit mention of a nuclear test, the threat of "physical actions" will fuel speculation that Pyongyang is preparing to carry out what would be its third test of a nuclear device.

   China's Li said that despite his country's support for the resolution, the Council had to be "prudent, measured, proportionate, and conducive to peace and stability."

   He told reporters there had to be new efforts to start "the diplomatic track and avoid the escalation of tension." China has been trying to revive the six-party talks on the North's nuclear program.

   The South Korean government immediately hailed the U.N. move. "The government welcomes the adoption of Resolution 2087 strengthening sanctions on North Korea for its long-range rocket launch in December 2012," Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said in a statement.

   He urged Pyongyang to abide by the resolution by halting all of its nuclear and missile programs.

   "North Korea will have to take note of (the U.N. council's) declaration that it will take significant action in case of additional provocations," Cho said.

   U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on the North "to work towards building confidence with neighboring countries and improving the life of its people," said his spokesman Martin Nesirky.

   Related to the U.N. resolution, which is the fifth of its kind in response to North Korea's rocket and nuclear tests, observers in Seoul said the "ball is now in Pyongyang's court" and depending on what action it takes, international relations will be affected.

   "What is important is what actions are to be taken by the North," said Yun Duk-min, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy.

   Others speculated that in the aftermath of the U.N. resolution, talks on sanctions will be at the top of agendas for policymakers. They said that if Pyongyang takes additional measures and provoke the outside world, it could effectively cause a reassessment of policies by the incoming Park Geun-hye government in South Korea and the Barack Obama administration.

   Park, who takes office as the country's first female president on Feb. 25, has called for dialogue with the North, yet warned she will not tolerate additional provocations by the communist country.

   Moreover, Seoul and Washington may be moving to impose sanctions independent of the resolution calling for actions to be taken against North Korea's financial sector and maritime activities.

   Meanwhile, some North Korean watchers were skeptical of what persuasive powers the U.N. resolution will have on the reclusive regime.

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

   "(Producing the new resolution) was a tough process," a South Korean official at the U.N. 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 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 non-permanent member of the U.N. council, has been persistent in calling for a strong response against North Korea, leading to the strengthening of existing sanctions.

   But the effectiveness of such a new step remains questionable. Although China finally backed the resolution, it 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."

   Meanwhile, South Korea and the United States are considering slapping their own "additional sanctions" on North Korea on top of the new U.N. resolution.

   The idea of Seoul and Washington imposing their own sanctions against Pyongyang will be one of the topics for talks in Seoul between Glyn Davies, Washington's special representative for North Korea Policy, and South Korea's chief nuclear envoy Lim Sung-nam. Davies arrived in Seoul on Jan. 23.

   Possible options would include making it more difficult for North Korean ships to travel in waters near the Korean Peninsula and strengthening inspections of North Korean ships suspected of engaging in weapons trafficking in accordance with U.N. sanctions, the diplomat said.

   Meanwhile, a South Korean intelligence source said North Korea has completed all technical preparations for a nuclear test and can carry it out in a few days if it makes a decision.

   North Korea had dug up a tunnel for a test at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site, but the tunnel has now been plugged with dirt and concrete, the source said, suggesting that all measuring and other equipment has already been installed inside.