U.S. proposes stringent UN sanctions against North Korea
MK Sneh: North Korean test shows West must act fast on Iran; Bush: Test is threat to global security.
The United States on Monday proposed stringent UN sanctions against North Korea, including a trade ban on military and luxury items, the power to inspect all cargo entering or leaving the country, and freezing assets connected with its weapons programs.
Those proposals were among several ideas for a Security Council resolution that the United States shared with council diplomats after North Korea announced it had conducted a nuclear test. A copy of the document was obtained by The Associated Press.
The document says that the United States wants the resolution to fall under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which deals explicitly with threats to international peace and security, as well as acts of aggression. Chapter 7 grants the council the authority to impose a range of measures which include breaking diplomatic ties and imposing economic and military sanctions to taking military action.
Military action, however, is far from anyone's minds.
"We believe that highly provocative act requires a very strong resolution explicitly under Chapter 7 that provides for sanctions against the North Korean regime," the document said.
Among the ideas are proposals to:
- Prohibit trade in materials that could be used to make or deliver weapons of mass destruction.
- Require states make sure that North Korea not use their territory or entities for proliferation or illicit activities. Financial transactions that North Korea could use to support those programs would also be banned.
- States would have to freeze all assets related to North Korea's weapons and missile programs, as well as any other illicit activities it conducts.
- Authorize inspection of all cargo to and from North Korea to limit proliferation.
- Ban trade with North Korea in luxury goods and military items.
Bush: Test deserves immediate responseUnited States President George W. Bush said Monday that a reported North Korean nuclear test poses a threat to global peace and security and denounced it as "unacceptable."
Bush said the action "deserves an immediate response" by the UN Security Council."
He also said the transfer of nuclear weapons or material would constitute "a grave threat" to the United States, and North Korea would be held "fully accountable for the consequences of such action."
Bush said he had telephoned the leaders of South Korea, China, Russia and Japan, and all had reaffirmed a commitment to a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.
"Once again, North Korea has defied the will of the international community, and the international community will respond," Bush said.
Bush said the United States still was attempting to confirm that a nuclear test had taken place. Still, he said, "such a claim itself constitutes a threat to international peace and security."
Israel: Test is irresponsible and provocative actIsrael on Monday condemned North Korea's nuclear test, calling it an "irresponsible and provocative act."
In a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry, Israel said it "joins others in the international community in condemning North Korea's nuclear test. The test is an irresponsible and provocative act that could pose a serious threat to the regional stability of north-east Asia and to global and international security."
In the statement, Israel reiterated its call to continue the moratorium on nuclear tests and expects North Korea to stop any action that would worsen the situation.
Israel also called on the international community to firmly implement UNSC resolutions adopted to deal with weapons of mass destruction and the proliferation threat.
Sneh: Act on Iran before it's too lateSenior Labor lawmaker and former IDF brigadier general Ephraim Sneh said earlier Monday that North Korea's test of an atomic weapon reflected the weakness of the international community and "its inability to address pariah states," in a direct reference to the Western world's response to the Iranian nuclear threat.
"Perhaps this case, that of North Korea, will teach them a lesson regarding the Iran issue," Sneh told Israel Radio, referring to the West. "Israeli policy should take advantage of what happened, in order to explain and persuade the international community, saying to it, 'Do something, before it's too late.'"
Israeli sources said on Monday they were checking the possible effects of North Korea's nuclear tests on the situation in Iran. "The two issues are linked and the ramifications must be examined," the sources said.
The sources believe North Korea's nuclear test will be on the agenda when Prime Minister Ehud Olmert addresses the Iranian nuclear threat in a special meeting set for Thursday. Security officials will discuss the matter prior to the meeting.
Israel Radio quoted an unnamed senior official in Jerusalem as saying that Israel viewed the test as "a provocation," and would lodge official protests.
International condemnationsThe international community issued widespread condemnations Monday after North Korea announced that it had detonated a successful underground nuclear test.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for "drastic measures" against North Korea, and said his country would turn to the Security Council to act as soon as possible.
"The nuclear test was conducted with indigenous wisdom and technology 100 percent," North Korea's Korean Central News Agency said.
"It marks a historic event as it greatly encouraged and pleased the KPA [Korean People's Army] and people that have wished to have powerful self-reliant defense capability."
The report said there was no leak or danger from the underground test.
The Security Council last Friday urged the communist regime not to carry out a nuclear test, warning Pyongyang of unspecified consequences if it did.
Finland, which holds the European Union presidency, called the test "unacceptable," while German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier said the test posed a "threat to the area and world."
Nuclear powers Pakistan and India also condemned the test, while Iran, facing sanctions for its own nuclear program, condemned the test, said that the world should be "clean of nuclear weapons."
Tehran said it hoped that the issue could be resolved through negotiations.
Beijing - a longtime supporter of the North but also the host of international talks aimed at persuading Pyongyang to give up its nuclear ambitions - strongly criticized the move.
"China resolutely opposes the North Korean nuclear test and hopes that North Korea will return to the six-nation talks," according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement read out on state television news. "Upholding the stability of Northeast Asia is in the interests of all parties."
China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the U.S. have held intermittent talks with North Korea since 2003 in hopes of getting Pyongyang to abandon nuclear weapons in exchange for aid and security guarantees.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard said his government would call on the Security Council to take "swift and effective action" against North Korea, including financial, trade and travel sanctions.
"But if the United Nations fails to act effectively against this outrage from North Korea, it will represent a further diminution of its authority," Howard said.
In London, Blair criticized the North for defying the international community.
"I condemn this completely irresponsible act by the government of the DPRK," Blair said in a statement issued by his office, referring to the North by the abbreviation of its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"The international community has repeatedly urged them to refrain from both missile testing and nuclear testing," he said. "This further act of defiance shows North Korea's disregard for the concerns of its neighbors and the wider international community."
Strong criticism also came from South Korea, which shares the world's most heavily armed border with the North.
"The North's nuclear test is a provocative act and the North must clearly assume all responsibility," said Kim Geun-tae, head of the ruling Uri Party, according to the party.
South Korea's presidential spokesman, meanwhile, said Seoul will "sternly respond."
Seoul's Defense Ministry said the military's alert level had been raised in response to reports of the test.
North and South Korea have faced off at the heavily armed demilitarized zone separating them since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
Abe, who was in South Korea on Monday for the first summit between the neighbors in a year, called for a coordinated and level-headed response.
"Although the test still needs to be confirmed, there must be a calm yet stern response," Abe said at a luncheon just prior to the summit. "It is important for Japan and South Korea, along with the United States and China, to work together and send a message to the world."
Abe, who assumed office just two weeks ago, was in Seoul after a summit in China, where he and President Hu Jintao agreed that a test by North Korea would be "intolerable" and vowed to work to persuade Pyongyang to return to multilateral talks aimed at getting it to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest country, condemned North Korea over its announced test, saying such a move would add to regional tensions and threaten stability.
"The Government of Indonesia reiterates its position that the recent nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is unacceptable under any justifiable reason," a Foreign Ministry statement said.
Security meeting in SeoulIn South Korea, President Roh Moo-hyun convened a emergency meeting of top security officials at the Blue House following the announcement.
North Korea announced last week it would test a nuclear device saying its hand was forced by what it called U.S. threats of nuclear war and economic sanctions. But it said it would not be the first to use a nuclear weapon.
Analysts say North Korea probably has enough fissile material to make six to eight nuclear bombs but probably does not have the technology to devise one small enough to mount on a missile.