U.S. seeks sanctions against North Korea

June 16, 1994|By Gilbert A. Lewthwaite | Gilbert A. Lewthwaite,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- The United States moved yesterday to try to impose United Nations sanctions on North Korea for its defiance of international nuclear safeguards.

"We are going to be very deliberate, very firm," President Clinton said as the administration began circulating its sanctions resolution to members of the U.N. Security Council in New York.

The North Koreans have repeatedly warned that imposition of sanctions would be regarded as a declaration of war.

The U.S. draft resolution calls for an end to U.N. development aid for North Korea, an arms embargo, scaled-down diplomatic representation, suspension of military treaties, a ban on nonscheduled air traffic, a reduction in cultural exchanges and an end to nuclear technical cooperation.

A senior U.S. official described these sanctions as "largely political measures to isolate North Korea."

To give the North Koreans a last chance to avoid confrontation, the proposed resolution suggests that the sanctions, once approved by the Security Council, not be imposed for a 30-day "grace period."

More severe economic sanctions, including a freeze on North Korean foreign assets and a cutoff of currency transfers, particularly from Japan, would be triggered if North Korea reprocessed plutonium, withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or expelled two International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors at its Yongbyon nuclear plant.

Among the initial proposed sanctions, the arms embargo would cost North Korea $50 million to $100 million a year in lost exports. But most of those exports go to Iran and Syria, countries that don't have perfect records for compliance with U.N. directives.

The targeted U.N. aid would be what is left of a four-year, $15 million plan to help an industrial project.

The sanctions were watered down to make them more acceptable to China, a longtime ally of North Korea that wields veto power in the Security Council.

Diplomatic negotiations over the resolution could last for weeks. Some administration officials want a sanctions resolution passed before leaders of the Group of 7 industrial nations meet in Naples, Italy, the first week of July. Other officials doubt that the deadline can be met.

Former President Jimmy Carter arrived yesterday in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, on a private visit to try to defuse the crisis. The Clinton administration endorsed the trip but said Mr. Carter was neither acting as an emissary nor carrying any message.

Mixed messages

Mr. Carter was given a reception by Foreign Minister Kim Yong Nam and reportedly met with President Kim Il Sung, but there was no indication of any change in Pyongyang's refusal to allow full inspection of its nuclear facilities.

Defense Minister O Jin Wu said yesterday that his country would never again accept inspections by the IAEA, which monitors compliance with the nonproliferation treaty. The North Korean ambassador to Paris warned of "a pitiless war" if sanctions were imposed.

But Foreign Minister Kim, as quoted by the official North Korean news agency, appeared less belligerent, telling Mr. Carter: "If the United States respects the sovereignty of our country and treats it as an equal partner . . . the pending issues between [North Korea] and the United States, including the nuclear issue, will be solved satisfactorily."

The agency quoted Mr. Carter as saying at a welcoming banquet, "I believe that as soon as the nuclear issue is resolved clearly and the misunderstandings are removed we can make progress for the other goals."

He said, "The time has come to establish full friendship and understanding, open trade, exchange of visits and full diplomatic relations between our two countries."

Madeleine K. Albright, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said:"We do not see sanctions as an end in themselves, but as a tool to show [North] Korea that it needs to adjust its behavior. The resolution will be phased and carefully calibrated."

Mike McCurry, the State Department spokesman, said: "It's going to take a great deal of determined diplomatic work by the United States and others within the Security Council to see this program of sanctions adopted. "

Another administration official, Charles Freeman, an assistant secretary of defense for regional security affairs, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that if the United Nations failed to adopt sanctions, "we are prepared to form a coalition outside the Security Council and pursue it because of the seriousness we attach to that issue."

The Joint Chiefs of Staff and senior officers met yesterday on the Korean crisis, but, according to a Pentagon official, they made no decisions to move troops or equipment closer to the area.

Bowing to China

"They agreed with this phased approach [to sanctions]," said the Pentagon official. "The Chinese have to be brought on slowly, and this is an effective way we hope to do that."

U.S. officials are unsure how China will vote on sanctions. The hope is that China will abstain rather than use its veto power.

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