U.S., China Put New North Korea Sanctions to U.N.
By JOE LAURIA, UNITED NATIONS (WSJ): The U.S. and China introduced a new round of sanctions against North Korea at the United Nations that the U.S. said would significantly impede the development of Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, in response to its test last month of an atomic bomb.
The sanctions would, among other measures, bring new focus to North Korea’s financial transactions and the activities of its diplomats abroad, and call on nations to help prevent leaders of the poverty-stricken country from obtaining specific luxury items, including yachts and race cars, U.N. Security Council diplomats said.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said she hoped the 15-member Security Council would unanimously adopt the sanctions by Friday. “The resolution tabled today will take the U.N. sanctions imposed on North Korea to the next level, breaking new ground and imposing significant new legal obligations,” she said on Tuesday. “North Korea will be subject to some of the toughest sanctions imposed by the U.N.”
The U.S. and China agreed on the proposed measures after three weeks of intensive negotiations, Ms. Rice said. China supported the previous three sets of Security Council sanctions against its reclusive ally after past North Korean nuclear tests and ballistic-missile launches, which are prohibited by the U.N.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said on Tuesday that Moscow would support the new sanctions. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he considered the sanctions a necessary action that he hoped would be taken as soon as possible.
The new sanctions would target the “illicit” activities of North Korean diplomats and the country’s banking relationships for the first time since sanctions were imposed on North Korea in 2006, she said.
Six new provisions would be intended to make it harder for North Korea to move money related to nuclear and missile activity, the diplomat said. Nations would now be obligated to freeze financial transactions dealing with the banned programs.
Because of existing financial sanctions, North Korean officials “move money in suitcases of cash,” so the proposed new measures would also seek to stop cash couriers, the diplomat said.
The council has already set up a voluntary inspections regime that calls on nations to inspect goods going to and coming from North Korean ports for contraband. The new sanctions would require nations to check cargo on their territory if nuclear or missile-related contraband is suspected, the diplomat said.
Ships that refuse to be boarded for inspection would be prohibited from entering any port under the proposed regime. Landing rights for aircraft suspected of transporting banned cargo would also be denied.
The import of luxury items has been banned, but never itemized before. The new sanctions would prohibit shipment to North Korea of yachts, jewelry, luxury automobiles and racing cars, the diplomat said.
The resolution would also for the first time target North Korean diplomats allegedly engaging in nuclear and missile proliferation abroad, the diplomat said. Nations would be called on to monitor North Korean diplomats on their territory.
Two North Korean companies and three agents for arms traffickers would be added to sanctions list, but no diplomats or government officials, he said.
The aim of the sanctions is to push Pyongyang to “change course and recognize that a denuclearized Korean peninsula is in the interest not only of North Korea, but of international peace and security,” Ms. Rice said.
It was far from clear whether the new sanctions would have the intended effect. “North Korea will go on with its nuclear program just as it has with every other round of sanctions,” said Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. “Short of war, there is no practical way to prevent Pyongyang from potentially becoming a nuclear-weapons state, and military strikes on North Korea would risk a general war in East Asia, and that’s far too high a price to pay.”
The resolution vows even stronger measures if Pyongyang engages in another nuclear test or missile launch. In the past, North Korea has reacted to the imposition of U.N. sanctions with further tests.
The Security Council, with Chinese support, tightened existing measures against North Korea in January in retaliation for a December ballistic-missile test. At the time, the council threatened significant action in the event of a nuclear test. Pyongyang followed with a test on Feb. 12.