China Hints Agreement on N. Korea

Daily News Article   —   Posted on October 11, 2006

(By Betsy Pisik, NEW YORK — The U.N. Security Council edged yesterday toward passing broad sanctions against North Korea, with the Chinese delegation, stung by Monday’s reported test of a nuclear device, showing more willingness than ever before to penalize its communist neighbor.
     John R. Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the diplomats had made “substantial progress” but declined to say how soon the issue might be brought to a vote. Emyr Jones Parry, Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations, told the British Broadcasting Corp. that he expected the resolution within a week, and possibly as soon as Friday.
    Shock waves from Pyongyang’s claim to have conducted a nuclear test reverberated far beyond the Security Council, with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun saying his government was reconsidering it’s “sunshine policy” toward the North and the Chinese foreign ministry calling a nuclear test “unimaginable.”
    North Korean leader Kim Jong-il “has clearly gotten the attention of everybody in this,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in one of a series of broadcast interviews last night.
    “I’ve never seen universal condemnation of the kind that North Korea is now facing, and condemnation, by the way, not just from the United States and Europe and Japan, but from its closest supporters, those who are the ones who give them assistance.”
    In Washington, a White House spokesman said it was still not clear whether the sub-megaton explosion monitored in North Korea on Monday was indeed a successful nuclear blast, and that there was a “remote possibility” it would never be known.
    “You could have something that is very old and off-the-shelf here, as well, in which case they’ve dusted off something that is old and dormant,” said Tony Snow, White House press secretary.
    The five permanent Security Council members and Japan met through most of the day to discuss a U.S. draft resolution that would stop all military and luxury goods and nuclear materials from entering North Korea; ban international travel by North Korea’s senior officials; and freeze its assets connected with money laundering, counterfeiting and narcotics.
    Outside the chamber, the Japanese delegation also proposed that North Korea’s ships and planes be turned away from international ports.
    The draft specifically exempts resources “necessary for basic expenses, including payment of foodstuffs,” debts, medical supplies and other legitimate expenses. The text also demands that Pyongyang return to six-party talks with the United States and North Korea’s neighbors — China, South Korea, Russia and Japan.
    “I see that many of the elements in the 13-point proposal provide a good basis for working,” said Wang Guangya, U.N. ambassador for China, which has never voted in favor of U.N. sanctions against any country, much less North Korea.
    Separately, Mr. Wang said Beijing could accept some elements of the draft being passed under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which would make them legally binding upon all member states. He was quoted earlier saying the Security Council must impose “punitive actions” but that they have to “be appropriate.”
    U.S. diplomats met privately on the sidelines of the council talks with representatives from China, one of the few nations thought to have any influence with Pyongyang.
    “We continue to move ahead,” Mr. Bolton told reporters late in the afternoon. “There is convergence on many issues, but that’s not to say we’re there yet by any stretch of the imagination.”
    Reports from the region quoted North Korean officials saying they had conducted a nuclear test in hopes of prompting direct negotiations with the United States, and threatening to attack America with nuclear-armed missiles if talks were not successful.
    “I think the North Koreans know that firing a nuclear missile would not be good for North Korea’s security,” said Miss Rice. “The North Koreans are not confused about what would happen.”
    In Brussels, a North Korean legislator yesterday defended his country’s announced nuclear test, saying it had been facing sanctions and threats from the United States for more than 60 years and had to defend itself.
    He said North Korea would be ready to resume international talks about its nuclear program if financial sanctions are lifted.
    Ri Jong-hyok, a member of North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly, spoke on a rare visit by a North Korean to the European Parliament, where he took part in an exchange of views with parliamentarians from the European Union.
    Bush administration officials insisted they would not change their policy of refusing to talk to the North Koreans except in the context of six-party talks in Beijing, which have been stalled since the United States froze Pyongyang’s overseas bank accounts in September 2005.
    “If they want to talk to us, all they have to do is buy a plane ticket to Beijing,” Mr. Bolton said in a television interview. “The North Koreans can talk to us any time they want on a bilateral basis if they come back to the six-party talks, which they have been boycotting.”

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