UN Security Council adopts tougher sanctions
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The UN Security Council has adopted tougher sanctions and a trade and arms embargo against North Korea in the wake of its nuclear tests in May. China and Russia, both initially reluctant, also supported the punitive measures.
AFP - The UN Security Council voted unanimously Friday to adopt tougher sanctions targeting North Korea's atomic and ballistic missile programs, but the Stalinist state was reportedly sticking to its nuclear defiance.
All 15 members endorsed a resolution sponsored by Britain, France, Japan, South Korea and the United States.
The text, which does not authorize the use of force, calls on UN member states to slap expanded sanctions on North Korea in response to its May 25 underground nuclear test and subsequent missile firings.
These include tougher inspections of cargo suspected of containing banned items related to North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile activities, a tighter arms embargo with the exception of light weapons and new financial restrictions.
US delegate to the UN Rosemary DiCarlo hailed the sanctions as 'innovative, robust and unprecedented" and said they send a "strong and international response" to North Korea's "unacceptable behavior."
Britain's UN deputy ambassador Philip Parham also welcomed the unanimous adoption of the text which "show that the international community is united in condemning North Korea's proliferation activities."
"We urge North Korea to refrain from any further provocative actions," he added. "North Korea should return to the negotiating table and engage seriously with the international community."
The compromise resolution "condemns in the strongest terms" the North Korean nuclear test and "demands that the DPRK (North Korea) not conduct any further nuclear test or any launch using ballistic missile technology."
It declares that Pyongyang "shall abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner and immediately cease all related activities."
But US intelligence officials have reportedly warned President Barack Obama that Pyongyang intends to respond to a UN resolution condemning its actions with another nuclear test.
Asked about how the Council would react to any new North Korean test, Parham said: "We would take it badly. But we can't speculate now (on the council response). Our emphasis has to be on implementing this resolution as effectively as possible."
Former South Korean foreign minister Song Min-Soon warned this month that the North would continue to test nuclear weapons.
He forecast that the communist state was likely to carry on test-launching missiles of various ranges in a bid to improve their accuracy.
Japan said Friday that North Korea's only path to "survival" in the global community was to comply with the UN resolution expected later in the day and to cease its missile and nuclear programs.
A key question will be whether China, which maintains close economic ties with Pyongyang, will seriously implement the sanctions.
A Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that "the Chinese and Russians have greater concern about the risk of provoking North Korea" and moved to dilute some of the mandatory measures sought by the United States and its allies.
The resolution requires the Stalinist regime to "immediately retract its announcement of withdrawal from the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty)" and return immediately to the six-party talks on a nuclear-free Korean peninsula without precondition.
It also calls on member states to prevent the transfer of financial or other assets that could contribute to North Korea's nuclear or ballistic missile programs.
And it gives 30 days to a UN sanctions sanctions panel to extend a list of North Korean entities, goods and individuals to be subjected to an assets freeze and travel ban decreed in a 2006 resolution.
North Korea launched a long-range missile in April, which was roundly condemned by the Security Council. Pyongyang then retaliated by announcing May 25 that it had staged a second nuclear weapons test, following one in 2006.
It also has declared the armistice ending the 1950-53 Korean War as void.
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