Strengthening sanctionsThe United Nations Security Council condemned North Korea’s launch of a long-distance rocket and is poised to adopt a draft presidential statement calling for toughened sanctions against the Stalinist state.
This is the wisest response that could be made, considering the current reality.
At first, the United States and others insisted on a legally binding resolution, but China and Russia strongly opposed that idea. The stalemate lasted for almost a week.
Now, the countries have finally been able to draft a presidential statement that is not legally binding but provides a context for powerful sanctions.
This holds huge significance, as it was an agreement, made at the Security Council, to stand against North Korea’s rocket launch. We hope the statement will pass the Security Council vote. The final draft clarifies the launching of the rocket on April 5 as a violation of Security Council Resolution 1718, which bans any North Korean activity related to ballistic missiles.
The presidential statement clearly urges the enforcement of sanctions. The Security Council is planning on creating a list of North Korean companies and organizations whose assets should be frozen, and restricting the movement of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. The list is expected to be handed to the UN sanctions committee.
It is still too early to anticipate the effect of the presidential statement since the result of the sanctions will depend on how many UN member countries are willing to follow the agreement.
There is also the statement’s fundamental lack of enforcement authority.
Yet China and Russia also joined in the condemnation of North Korea’s action based on its violation of Resolution 1718. The fact that these two countries agreed on the detailed sanctions is something that North Korea should not take lightly. Once the statement is accepted, the ball will be in North Korea’s court.
Pyongyang has been threatening to refuse to participate in the six-party talks and to halt the disablement of its nuclear facilities. North Korea should think about whether such actions will be in its best interests.
In 2006, the UN Security Council adopted Security Council Resolution 1718 immediately after North Korea executed a nuclear test. However, as Pyongyang returned to the six-party talks, the sanctions against it became nominal.
It is up to Pyongyang whether the sanctions will be enforced or not. North Korea will be further isolated and continue to suffer if it acts irrationally and decides not to participate in the six-party talks.