China drags feet on reining in the North’s nukes

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China drags feet on reining in the North’s nukes

Despite pressure from the U.S. and South Korea, China is refusing to help rein in North Korea’s nuclear program.

As North Korea’s biggest ally, China has been urged repeatedly over the last few months to restrain its neighbor after the shelling of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island last November. North Korea also showed a visiting American scientist a uranium enrichment facility in Yongbyon that month, provoking alarm among the U.S. and its allies over North Korea’s expanding nuclear program.

“China expressed concern over North Korea’s uranium enrichment during summit talks with the U.S. in Washington, but it isn’t showing any interest in taking this issue to the U.N. Security Council,” said a South Korean government official yesterday. “If China absolutely refuses to take this issue up with the U.N. Security Council then it should at least take other actions, such as stopping North Korea’s nuclear activities.”

Chinese President Hu Jintao expressed concern about North Korea’s uranium enrichment program in a joint statement with U.S. President Obama during a visit to Washington Jan. 20. However, Hu did not directly address North Korea’s recent attacks on South Korea.

”Measures should be taken by the international society regarding North Korea’s uranium enrichment program, including taking it to the U.N. Security Council,” a U.S. government source told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday.

James Steinberg, U.S. deputy secretary of state, was expected to have conveyed these opinions to China Friday during a visit to Beijing. Steinberg was reported to have met with Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo on his visit, which wraps up a tour to South Korea, Japan and China.

Steinberg said Jan. 26 it was imperative for the international community to send a message to North Korea that its uranium program is against U.N. Security Council Resolutions and the September 19, 2005 agreement in which North Korea agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons programs.

By Christine Kim []

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‘中 3월 안보리 의장국’…北UEP 변수
美 안보리카드 '만지작'..관련국 수싸움

북한 우라늄농축 프로그램(UEP)의 유엔 안전보장이사회의 상정카드를 둘러싸고 관련국들의 '수읽기'가 치열하다.

UEP를 안보리 무대로 가져가는 것과 6자회담 테이블로 끌고오는 것 가운데 어느 쪽이 유리하느냐에 대한 전략적 판단이 핵심이다.

현재 6자회담 관련국 내부의 논의는 매우 미묘하게 돌아가는 흐름이다.

표면상으로는 대립전선이 그려진 듯하다. 안보리 대응을 적극 추진하려는 한국과 이에 원칙적으로 동의하는 미국.일본이 한축을 이루고, 6자회담의 틀 속에서 이를 다루려는 중국과 북한이 다른 축을 형성하고 있다.

그러나 이는 확정적 구도가 아니라 관련국 사이의 전략적 이해절충과 6자회담 재개흐름에 따라 얼마든지 유동화될 가능성이 크다는 분석이 제기되고 있다.

가장 주목할 변수는 미.중의 최종 입장정리다. 정상회담에서 UEP에 대해 '우려'(concern)을 표명한 양국이 어느 쪽으로 방향을 잡느냐가 전체적인 북핵협상 구도를 좌우할 것이라는 …
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