UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) â€” The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Saturday to impose financial and weapons sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear test, which the resolution called a “clear threat to international peace and security”. The US-drafted resolution allows nations to stop cargo going to and from North Korea to check for weapons of mass destruction or related supplies. It was adopted after the United States, Britain and France made some modifications to dealt with last-minute objections from Russia and China.
“Today we are sending a strong and clear message to North Korea and other would-be proliferators that there will be serious repercussions in continuing to pursue weapons of mass destruction,” US Ambassador John Bolton told the Security Council’s 15 members.
The resolution requires all countries to prevent the sale or transfer of materials related to Pyongyang’s unconventional weapons programme. And it demands nations freeze funds overseas of people or businesses connected with North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
In a concession to China, the resolution specifically excludes the use of force, but allows economic sanctions and a restriction on naval and air transport.
But by allowing cargo inspection, the document still puts an international imprimatur on the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative. This was launched in May 2003 and encourages countries to interdict weapons from North Korea, Iran and other states of concern.
US ‘hostile policies’
North Korea’s UN ambassador said his country “totally” rejected the Security Council’s resolution.
Ambassador Pak Gil Yon told the council at a public meeting that Pyongyang conducted a nuclear test because of the “hostile policies” of the United States.
Wang Guangya, China’s UN ambassador, told the council Beijing still opposed interdiction and urged nations not to take “provocative steps”. The resolution also drops a ban on all arms going to North Korea, but it puts an embargo on all large-sized conventional arms.
In Washington, a US intelligence analysis showed radioactivity in air samples collected near the suspected nuclear test site, a US official said on Friday, five days after Pyongyang announced it conducted the test.
“That’s right, though this is only a first look. People have been saying all along that the working assumption is it was a nuke,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
US President George W. Bush had used his weekly radio address to the nation to urge world powers to pass tough sanctions on North Korea and said Pyongyang must face “real consequences” for the nuclear weapons test.
With China fearing a flood of refugees from a sudden collapse of North Korea â€” which was sorely tested yet survived the demise of the Soviet Union, the death of its founder and a famine that may have killed 10 per cent of its people in the 1990s â€” some questioned what impact any sanctions would have.
“North Korea is already very familiar with poverty,” former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung told Reuters in Seoul on Saturday. “The country can also get support, at least in order to survive, from countries such as China.” Kim, the architect of South Korea’s engagement policy with the North, blamed US policy in part for the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, which he said could only end if Washington held direct talks with Pyongyang leaders.
“The United States must talk to North Korea,” Kim said in an e-mail interview. “We have to talk not only with friends but also with enemies, if necessary.” US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit China, Japan and South Korea from October 17 to 22. A US official said Rice would also likely travel to Russia during the trip.
Those five countries had been engaging North Korea in the “six-party talks” aimed at getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear programme in exchange for aid and security guarantees.Â