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U.N. accord reached on N. Korea sanctions

The full council could adopt the draft as early as tomorrow. The U.S. assured it will not use force.

UNITED NATIONS - The United States, China, and other nations reached agreement yesterday on a draft U.N. resolution that condemns North Korea's April 5 nuclear test and subsequent missile launches and imposes additional military, financial, and trade sanctions against the communist state. The draft was presented to the 15-nation Security Council for consideration and is expected to be adopted by the full council as early as tomorrow.

The pact reflected an emerging international consensus on the need to squeeze North Korea to bring an end to weeks of nuclear and missile activities and to resume political talks with the United States and other powers over the fate of its nuclear-weapons program. It underscored the concern of North Korea's traditional allies, China and Russia, over Pyongyang's confrontational approach to the nuclear crisis.

In recent weeks, China and Russia have expressed alarm that North Korea's nuclear test represented a threat to vital international arms-control treaties, including the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, that regulate the use of nuclear weapons. But they have also registered concern that the U.N. reaction be measured to ensure that it does not provoke a more belligerent reaction from North Korea.

Hours before the final deal was struck, Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. envoy for North Korea talks, provided public assurances that the United States had no intention of using force to resolve the standoff.

"We have no intention to invade North Korea or change its regime through force, and this has been made clear to the DPRK repeatedly," he said in an address at the Korea Society on Tuesday night.

Bosworth also said that the United States remained committed to continuing "serious negotiations" with North Korea. "North Korea should be shown a clear path toward acceptance in the international community."

Yesterday's accord followed weeks of intensive closed-door negotiations involving the Security Council's permanent five members - the United States, Russia, China, France, and Britain - and Japan and South Korea.

Russia's U.N. envoy, Vitaly Churkin, said his government shared the U.S. and other key powers' "frustration and concern" with North Korea's actions, which "pose some real proliferation risks." But he said that text had been carefully worded to exclude the prospect of future military action, and to leave the door open to political talks.

Still, the resolution represents a significant escalation in the international community's effort to contain North Korea, including a provision that would sharply restrict Pyongyang's access to grants, financial assistance, and concessional loans, for humanitarian purposes or the promotion of denuclearization. It also calls for implementing a range of sanctions that were imposed on North Korea after it conducted its first nuclear test in October 2006.

The resolution pledges to ease sanctions if North Korea takes a number of steps to address U.N. concerns, including a moratorium on nuclear weapons or ballistic-missile activities and a commitment to allow expanding U.N. nuclear inspections. But it demands North Korea "shall abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner."

The text includes a call for U.N. members to play a more active role in inspecting all cargo entering or leaving North Korea if there is a reasonable suspicion it contains banned nuclear or missile technology.

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the resolution's adoption would send a message to North Korea that its "behavior is unacceptable" and that "they must pay a price." This resolution "will bite and it will bite in a meaningful way," she said.