Diplomat: Expanded NKorea Sanctions Proposed

By: Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press Email
By: Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press Email

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Key world powers have proposed a range of expanded U.N. sanctions against North Korea in response to its recent nuclear test as well as measures to give teeth to existing ship searches and bans against the reclusive Asian nation, a U.N. diplomat said Wednesday.

The five permanent veto-wielding council members - the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France - and the two countries most closely affected by the nuclear test, Japan and South Korea, discussed possible U.N. sanctions and other measures for a new Security Council resolution on Tuesday.

The diplomat, who is familiar with the talks but spoke on condition of anonymity because they were closed, said there was a clear commitment to go for sanctions in the new resolution and no reluctance from North Korea's allies, China and Russia.

But what measures the 15-member council ultimately agrees to remains to be seen.

"I think the goal is to have eventually denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and stability in the region," Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters, "and we all certainly have the goal, I think of a political and diplomatic outcome of this situation."

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice agreed that council members want to "ensure that we have ultimately a non-nuclear North Korea and that we are not facing the threat or the reality of proliferation."

The United States and Japan were compiling the suggestions so they could be sent to the seven governments, possibly late Wednesday. Ambassadors from the seven countries are likely to meet again as early as Thursday afternoon, the diplomat said. But a draft of the resolution wasn't expected to be circulated until next week.

"We're in a process where we are gathering the different points of views of those engaged," Rice said. "It's serious business. It's complicated and we need to be in touch with our capitals repeatedly. And this is going to be one that we work to get right rather than to pop out prematurely."

Neither Churkin nor Rice would comment further on the proposed resolution.

According to the unnamed UN diplomat, the proposals for expanded sanctions range from a broader arms embargo to an asset freeze on individuals and additional companies, restrictions on flights to and from North Korea, and restrictions on the country's financial and banking operations.

Sanctions imposed after Pyongyang's first nuclear test in 2006 authorized ship searches for banned weapons and banned the sale of luxury goods as a way to target North Korea's ruling elite.

The diplomat said the proposals include measures that would try to ensure that these sanctions are enforced.

One proposal would call for all 192 U.N. member states to report within 30 days on what they are doing to implement the resolution and enforce the sanctions, the diplomat said.

The new Security Council resolution will also likely condemn North Korea for violating the 2006 resolution which banned nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches, repeat the council's demand that no further tests be conducted, and urge Pyongyang to return to six-party talks aimed at eliminating its nuclear program, the diplomat said.

Russia and China insist that the Security Council give Pyongyang a chance to show "goodwill" before any expanded sanctions and enforcement measures in the new resolution take effect, the diplomat said.

That could possibly mean setting a target date for the resolution to become operative, the diplomat said.

What would North Korea have to do to stop the resolution from going into force?

The diplomat said it would have to take several steps including agreeing to halt nuclear tests, allowing U.N. nuclear inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency back into the country to dismantle its nuclear facilities, and rejoining the six-party talks and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

The diplomat said one proposal would expand an existing arms embargo on the import and export of heavy weapons to include lighter weapons. The council also is considering expanding the list of North Korean companies facing sanctions and targeting individuals linked to the country's weapons programs for the first time, the diplomat said.

Last month, after a rocket launch that many saw as a cover for testing its long-range missile technology, the Security Council imposed sanctions on three North Korean companies for the first time.

Pyongyang responded by announcing that it was quitting disarmament talks and restarting its atomic facilities. The six-party talks, which began in 2003, had involved North Korea, South Korea, Russia, China, Japan, and the United States.

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