North Korean rebuke pending

Security Council due to vote today on sanctions in reply to nuclear test

October 14, 2006|By Maggie Farley | Maggie Farley,Los Angeles Times

UNITED NATIONS -- The Security Council plans to vote today on a resolution imposing sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear test after a session to address Chinese and Russian concerns over how to implement them.

Tests showing radiation in gases dispelled most doubts that North Korea had conducted the test - doubts that had arisen after earlier sampling did not detect any nuclear particles, according to a U.S. government official.

The resolution calls for a ban on goods related to North Korea's missile and nuclear programs and a freeze on financial activities that support them, as well as a travel ban for senior North Korean officials. It also puts an embargo on heavy conventional weapons and luxury goods. A draft introduced late yesterday included a provision that made clear that the resolution would not allow military enforcement without another resolution, at the request of China and Russia.

But China has balked at a measure that would allow the inspection and seizure of suspected nuclear and missile materials going in and out of North Korea, arguing that it could provoke confrontation, interfere with commerce and allow intrusive activity too close to its borders.

The measure is based on the 2003 U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative, a group of 16 core countries that have agreed to take steps to stop the flow of weapons of mass destruction, including boarding ships for aggressive inspections. Russia is a member of the core group, and more than 80 other nations have signed on.

U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton, one of the original architects of the PSI, said that it would oblige nations to help with cargo inspections at sea, airports and border crossings and that it is consistent with international law. "I see that as a natural evolution," Bolton said.

China, however, said it could not agree to the inspections. "Politically, China will not do it," said Wang Guangya, China's U.N. ambassador. " I believe that the exercises under PSI will easily lead, whether it is intentional or not, to ... escalations of provocations." Russia called a special session yesterday afternoon to discuss objections to the resolution's annex outlining implementation of the sanctions.

"We are not there yet," Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said about hopes for the full council's support of the resolution in the vote set for today. "It will be unanimous if and when, when and if, we vote unanimously on this resolution."

The vote is scheduled to be held after meetings to finalize proposed changes. "I'm still ready to go for a vote," Bolton said last night. "We'll just have to see what instructions are overnight from Russia and China."

China and Russia, neighbors and major trade partners of North Korea, are considered crucial to the implementation of the new sanctions.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice set plans to visit China, South Korea and Japan next week to discuss vigorous enforcement of the U.N. sanctions and to try to show a common front with allies, officials said.

Sean McCormack, the chief State Department spokesman, told reporters that Rice would be talking "about how to actually go about implementing the resolution." Experts have said the importance of the new resolution will depend largely on how strictly it is enforced.

Chris Hill, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asia, said Rice would urge other countries to stringently apply the sanctions.

"A key part of her trip will be to make sure that the resolution, when passed, will really have teeth to it and will really function properly," Hill said at an event sponsored by Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Foreign Policy magazine. "We need to make sure that we have devised something that works" for North Korea, Hill said.

Meanwhile, tests of air samples collected near North Korea have confirmed that the small-magnitude blast Monday was a nuclear explosion, a U.S. government official said.

Results of initial tests, released early yesterday, found no evidence of radioactivity in air particles. However, subsequent tests on gases collected by a WC-135 "sniffer plane" were positive for radiation, indicating an atomic explosion, a U.S. government official said. The samples were tested at the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida.

Also yesterday, Ban Ki Moon, the foreign minister of South Korea, was appointed by the General Assembly as the next secretary-general, succeeding Kofi Annan.

Ban was approved by acclamation of the 192-member body and greeted by sustained applause as he walked onto the rostrum to make his acceptance speech.

He is to take the oath of office in mid-December and assume the job Jan. 1, the day after Annan completes his two five-year terms.

Ban, 62, will become the eighth secretary-general in the 60-year history of the United Nations and the first Asian occupant of the office since U Thant of Burma stepped down in 1971.

Annan, 68, hailed his successor as "a man with a truly global mind at the helm of the world's only universal organization."

Maggie Farley writes for the Los Angeles Times. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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