U.S. Hits Obstacle in Getting a Vote on North Korea


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

October 14, 2006

U.S. Hits Obstacle in Getting a Vote on North Korea

UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 13 ‹ The United States pressed for a Saturday vote on a 
Security Council resolution that would impose sanctions on North Korea for its 
reported nuclear test, but questions from China and Russia on Friday evening 
cast the timing and possibly the content of the document into doubt.

The terms of the resolution had already been softened three times this week to 
meet objections from China and Russia, and earlier Friday there appeared to be 
agreement on holding a vote Saturday morning.

John R. Bolton, the American ambassador to the United Nations, said the new 
problems appeared ³technical² rather than ³substantial,² but said they would 
require another conference of Japan and the five permanent Council members, 
Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, Saturday before the full 
15-member panel met later in the day.

While the wording of the resolution was still being worked out, American 
intelligence officials said on Friday evening that they had found radioactive 
material in air samples taken over the region, providing more evidence that 
North Korea did indeed detonate a nuclear bomb.

The new draft resolution dropped or softened several provisions to placate China
and Russia. It eliminated explicit mention of military enforcement of the 
sanctions; placed more limits on the kinds of cargo that could be inspected 
going in and out of North Korea; and dropped a blanket embargo on conventional 

Mr. Bolton indicated that one area of dispute remained the methods and 
legalities of how to inspect cargo. The new draft resolution limits the weapons 
ban to large-size arms, military systems and unconventional weapons.

The measure, drafted by the United States, still requires all countries to 
prevent the sale or transfer of material related to North Korea¹s nuclear, 
ballistic missile and unconventional weapons programs, and maintains a ban on 
travel by persons associated with those programs.

It also bars North Korea from exporting such weapons, a provision aimed at the 
international concern over the possibility of unconventional arms from North 
Korea ending up with terrorist groups or rogue states.

Kenzo Oshima, the Japanese ambassador to the United Nations and president of the
Security Council, announced the Council would gather at noon, but could not say 
whether there would be a vote.

³An overwhelming majority of the Council members want to vote as soon as 
possible,² Mr. Bolton said. ³They still think it is important to send a swift 
and strong signal, and I¹m confident we¹re going to be able to do that.²

Wang Guangya, the Chinese ambassador, said, ³It all depends on the final text, 
because we are not at the final text yet.²

The United States and Japan, the driving forces behind the resolution, had 
earlier thought they had surmounted the Chinese and Russian objections to the 
resolution when they submitted a revision Thursday night that softened some of 
the earlier provisions.

Mr. Bolton said the United States was ³very satisfied² with the document as it 
stood Friday morning and was prepared to vote for it immediately.

But Mr. Wang, while asserting his country was happy with the progress that had 
been made, said his country was still studying the text before officially 
pronouncing on it. ³With progress we are always satisfied, but if we work 
harder, we might make more progress,² he said.

Vitaly I. Churkin, the Russian ambassador, said, ³I think we are on the right 
track, but we are not there yet.²

In Washington, officials, apparently confident of the imminent passage of the 
measure, announced that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would travel to Asia
next week to discuss how to implement the resolution, as well as to discuss 
other efforts to deter North Korean proliferation of a nuclear bomb or 
bomb-making materials. Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman, said Ms. 
Rice would travel to Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing.

The trip, he said, is ³an opportunity for her in the region to reaffirm and talk
about the strength of our existing alliances there, and also to have a bit more 
of a wider conversation with others in the region about the current situation, 
about the security situation, and also to talk broadly about nonproliferation 

Senior State Department officials portrayed the United Nations momentum toward a
resolution as evidence of a united, multilateral front agreeing to punish North 

³So the first issue we need to do is to make clear that the sense of outrage and
condemnation by the international community to have a resolution in the Security
Council, which will not only be a resolution condemning North Korea, but 
actually a resolution with some teeth to it,² said Christopher Hill, the 
assistant secretary of state for east Asian and Pacific affairs.

³North Korea needs to understand that this is indeed a very, very costly 
decision that will leave North Korea far worse off and far more isolated than 
ever before,² said Mr. Hill, speaking at a conference in Washington. ³We need to
give that message very clearly and make sure that North Korea cannot find any 
differences in our views. So I think so far, so good.²

The resolution condemns the test on Oct. 9 as a ³flagrant disregard² of Security
Council warnings, orders it not to conduct nuclear or missile tests, and urges 
the North to return to six-nation talks with South Korea, China, Japan, Russia 
and the United States.

It freezes funds overseas of people or businesses connected to the 
unconventional weapons programs and bans the sale of luxury goods to North 

³I think the North Korean population has been losing height and weight over the 
years,² Mr. Bolton said. ³Maybe this will be a little diet for Kim Jong-il,² he 
said, referring to the North Korean dictator.

Under the resolution, member states are to report to the Security Council within
30 days on steps they have taken to comply with the its demands.

The resolution still invokes Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, which 
makes mandatory economic and diplomatic sanctions. China and Russia customarily 
resist the Chapter VII provision on the grounds that it sets a pretext for the 
use of military force, as many countries believe it did in Iraq.

But in a formulation used in July to obtain a unanimous vote on the resolution 
condemning the North Korean missile launches, the text added a reference to 
Article 41 of the chapter, which permits only ³means not involving the use of 
military force.²

In another change designed to gain Chinese and Russian support, the resolution 
now says the inspection process will be ³cooperative² with local authorities. 
Both countries were sensitive to such interdiction being done near their coasts 
and borders, but Mr. Bolton said that though the inspections covered air, sea 
and land shipments, he expected most actions would be performed in port.

As for the agreement struck to limit the arms embargo to specific weapons like 
missiles, tanks, attack helicopters, artillery systems, warships and combat 
aircraft, Mr. Bolton said, ³That would place under embargo the most dangerous, 
most sophisticated, most lethal weapons, so that¹s a substantial step forward, 
and, as I say, we¹re happy to accept that as a compromise.²

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

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