Tuesday, October 10, 2006

U.S. Proposes Embargo, Sanctions on N. Korea

From The Washington Post, Monday, October 9, 2006, by Colum Lynch and Howard Schneider...

UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 9 -- The Bush administration on Monday proposed an arms embargo and a series of legally binding U.N. financial and trade sanctions to punish North Korea for apparently detonating a nuclear device, and it called for international inspections of all trade coming into and out of the secretive country to enforce them. The proposal followed promptly after Monday's unanimous condemnation of North Korea by the U.N. Security Council and statements by President Bush vowing to protect U.S. allies in the region and maintain a "nuclear-free Korean peninsula." It was contained in a U.S. draft resolution to be presented to the 15-nation council this afternoon. It is unclear when the body will vote.

...Britain and France voiced support for sanctions on North Korea, but stopped short of endorsing the U.S.-backed proposal. China, meanwhile, cautioned that the 15-nation body pursue only diplomatic means to persuade North Korea to halt its nuclear activities....Russia's initial reaction was somewhat ambiguous....saying only that North Korea would "face a very serious attitude" within the council.

The draft resolution mirrors elements of an earlier resolution, 1695, which was passed this summer and called on states to voluntarily ban the trade of ballistic missiles and equipment necessary for other weapons of mass destruction. Bolton told reporters the current resolution goes further. He said the speed with which the council agreed to condemn the apparent test in a 30-minute meeting demonstrated the depth of world concern over the issue. "I did not see any protectors of North Korea in that room," Bolton said. "No one defended [the test]. No one even came close to defending it."

...the very claim of a nuclear test, Bush said, was "provocative" and "constitutes a threat to peace and security." He reaffirmed the U.S. intent to protect its close allies in the region, Japan and South Korea. The United States "will meet the full range of our deterrent and security commitments," the president said. That included, he said, holding North Korea "fully accountable" for the potential proliferation of nuclear technology to governments or organizations hostile to the United States. He mentioned Iran and Syria by name but also included "non-state entities," and said their acquisition of a nuclear device "would be considered a grave threat to the United States."

....Democratic and Republican leaders were quick to denounce the North Korean test, the Associated Press reported. "Reports of North Korea's test of a nuclear weapon is an extremely dangerous and destabilizing event," said Sen. John Kerry, (D-Mass.) a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee....House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) issued a statement denouncing North Korea's action as "the desperate act of a criminal regime" and said the House would support Bush and the international community in condemning that country's "reckless decision."

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