[EDITORIALS]Serves them rightThe United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution condemning North Korea’s recent missile tests and requesting its unconditional return to the six party talks. The main content of the resolution can be summarized into three parts.
First, it bans all member nations from funding or selling missile-related goods or technology to North Korea.
Second, it requests member nations to stop the purchase of North Korean missiles and any missile-related goods or production technology from the Stalinist nation, which takes on the look of an actual economic sanction.
Finally, the resolution states that it is “acting under its special responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security” and that it “decides to remain seized on the matter.”
This warns the North that the Security Council will take further measures beyond the content of the resolution should further provocations occur.
North Korea responded immediately with a strong protest against the Security Council resolution. The North Korean ambassador to the UN threatened that his nation would continue its missile tests as a part of efforts to strengthen its deterrent ability for self-defense.
Furthermore, he went on to say that the Kim Jong-il regime would come out with stronger physical force if outside influences pressure the nation because of the missile tests. As a result, whether a solution is found or the situation takes a turn for the worse lies in the hands of the North Korean government.
Much meaning lies in the fact that the UN came out with a unified voice in order to restrain North Korea’s provocations.
The United States and Japan had originally insisted on inserting in the resolution a reference to Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which would allow the use of military force to ensure that the resolution was obeyed.
China and Russia, however, opposed that tactic, and there had been observations that the resolution itself might not be adapted at all due to the veto power wielded by the two countries. But instead of deleting the term “Chapter 7,” both sides compromised to include various expressions to pressure Pyongyang.
The actions shows clearly how serious North Korea’s missile launches are being treated by the international community.
Among other countries, China is especially noticeable. Although Chapter 7 was left out of the final draft of the resolution, it joined the resolution that does not recognize North Korea’s missile sovereignty and might perhaps lead to economic sanctions on its North Korean ally.
Ever since signing the “DPRK-China Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance” in 1961, which allows the unconditional intervention of Chinese forces in case of an emergency, China and North Korea have maintained a intimate alliance that did not change even after China established diplomatic relations with South Korea in 1992.
That is why the recent decision can be interpreted as a a strong response from China to North Korea’s refusal to accept China’s requests to suspend the missile tests. Of course there is no obvious way of telling how much the relations between the two countries will worsen.
By firing the missiles, North Korea single-handedly turned down China’s repeated attempts to persuade the North Korea to postpone the launches.
We are worried that this could be a sign that North Korea might dare to care little for the stability of the Korean Peninsula, a pivotal national interest that China cannot afford to give up.
With the adoption of the resolution, the ball is now in the hands of both Koreas. Officials from both governments must possess a keen sense of emergency and know that a wrong move could bring catastrophic trouble. They have to approach the issue with a sense of calmness and caution.
In that sense, it was a good move by the South Korean government to support the resolution and warn North Korea away from taking any actions that might worsen the situation.
The Roh administration has been looked confused too often during the recent crisis. But now we must avoid miscommunications with the UN and especially with the United States and Japan. Of course the excessive response like the pre-emptive strike must be appropriately handled. However, pitiful reactions regarding the missile launches, calling it “a method for employing political pressure” must also be definitely avoided.
Who will consider those in power the ruling party, if they continue to overlook the senseless and irresponsible comments by the chairman of the National Assembly’s Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee, who said that Pyongyang had never threatened to attack Seoul with missiles.
Above all, the Kim Jong-il regime must no longer misjudge the situation. North Korea should bear in mind that radical actions such as additional missile launches will take it over the line of no return, as the votes of China and Russia suggest.
It must learn that accepting the suggestions of the international community and holding bilateral talks with the United States within the framework of the six-party talks is the shortcut to maintaining its regime.