China balks at backing UN report

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China balks at backing UN report

China is opposing an effort by a United Nations sanctions committee to adopt a report on North Korea’s uranium enrichment program, a South Korean government source said yesterday.

The news comes as the UN Security Council (UNSC) is scheduled to hold a North Korea sanctions committee meeting in New York on Feb. 23. The committee is expected to adopt the recently-drafted report, a move that observers say will give more strength for the UNSC to act against Pyongyang’s suspected nuclear program.

“China, taking a negative stance on the uranium enrichment issue being presented to the UNSC, is opposed to adopting the report,” Yonhap quoted an unidentified government source as saying. “The adoption of the report is critical [in efforts to bring the issue to the UNSC] as it is linked to how the international community views the issue.”

The report concludes that the uranium enrichment program, which Pyongyang showed to a U.S. scientist in November, was probably genuine.

It also said the program is more advanced than a facility in Iran and requires a stronger supervision by the UNSC.

The North’s uranium enrichment facility is suspected by scientists to be able to equip the North with an alternative way of building nuclear weapons beyond its plutonium-based weapons.

Another government official said China’s opposition is making it hard to deal with North Korea. The decision to adopt the report must be unanimous by the UNSC.

The official said China is claiming the North’s uranium program can be dealt with in the framework of the six-party talks.

Beijing has urged the involved parties to resume multinational talks on North Korea’s denuclearization, stalled since April 2009 with the North’s withdrawal.

South Korea’s top envoy on the North Korean issue, Wi Sung-lac, told Chinese officials last week that the six-party talks can be effective only after the international community shows a stern response to the uranium enrichment program, according to a Seoul Foreign Ministry official.

The official, talking about Wi’s two-day visit to Beijing last week, said Wi delivered the message that the North’s uranium enrichment is a “serious provocation.”

By Moon Gwang-lip []
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