Mon, Oct 16, 2006 - Page 1 News List

UN punishes N Korea with sanctions

ENFORCEMENT CRUCIAL The Security Council voted unanimously to impose financial and weapons sanctions, a move Pyongyang's envoy condemned as ``gangster-like''

AP , SEOUL

South Korean activists shout slogans during an anti-North Korea rally in Seoul yesterday. The South Korean government said it would enforce the new UN sanctions against Pyongyang.

PHOTO: AFP

The UN Security Council unanimously approved tough sanctions against North Korea for its claimed nuclear test, but divisions over how to enforce them signaled that implementation may not be easy.

One of the biggest differences was over a call on countries to inspect cargo leaving and arriving in North Korea to prevent any illegal trafficking in unconventional wea-pons or ballistic missiles.

The final resolution was soft-ened from language authorizing searches, but was still unacceptable to China, which said it would not carry out any searches.

Japan and Australia promised yesterday to immediately enforce the sanctions. South Korea pledged to implement the measures but gave no details on how it would do so.

The Security Council already had to overcome sharp divisions to approve the sanctions on Saturday.

The US-sponsored resolution demands North Korea eliminate all its nuclear weapons but expressly rules out military action against the country, a demand by the Russians and Chinese.

The resolution orders all countries to prevent North Korea from importing or exporting any material for weapons of mass destruction or ballistic missiles. It orders nations to freeze assets of people or businesses connected to these programs, and ban the individuals from traveling.

North Korea immediately rejected the resolution, and its UN ambassador walked out of the council chamber after accusing its members of a "gangster-like" action which neglects the nuclear threat posed by the US.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer yesterday welcomed the UN resolution as "surprisingly tough" and said Canberra was mulling stronger measures of its own.

China is uncomfortable with the possibility of the US interdicting ships near its coasts, though US Ambassador John Bolton has said he expects most inspections would be performed at ports. China reiterated it wouldn't conduct any inspections and called for caution.

"China strongly urges the countries concerned to adopt a prudent and responsible attitude in this regard and refrain from taking any provocative steps that may intensify the tensions," Chinese UN Ambassador Wang Guangya (王光亞) said.

China said yesterday that it hoped the resolution would lead to a peaceful resolution.

"We maintain that the action by the Security Council should clearly state the firm stance of the international community, create conditions conducive to the peaceful resolution of this issue through dialogue and negotiations," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao (劉建超) said in a statement on the ministry's Web site.

South Korea's Unification Ministry indicated that the sanctions would not affect a tourism venture and a joint industrial complex in the North, saying the "projects have nothing to do with the weapons of mass destruction program."

Critics have urged the South Korean government to halt the two projects, saying that funds may be diverted for the North's nuclear weapons program.

Bolton told reporters on Saturday the next step was to start working on implementing the resolution.

"Hopefully on saner reflections perhaps they'll begin to accept that if they don't change course, the only future for them is continued isolation," he said.

To meet Russian and Chinese concerns, the US eliminated a complete ban on the sale of conventional weapons. Instead, the resolution limits the embargo to major hardware such as tanks, warships, combat aircraft and missiles.

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