In the News – U.N. Council to Expand North Korea Sanctions
SEOUL, South Korea — The United Nations Security Councilofficially censured North Korea on Monday over the failed rocket launching of a satellite last week, saying it “strongly condemns” the action and had ordered its sanctions committee to expand the blacklist of North Korean goods, companies and individuals connected to that country’s nuclear and missile programs.
“The Security Council underscores that this satellite launch, as well as any launch that uses ballistic missile technology, even if characterized as a satellite launch or space launch vehicle, is a serious violation” of measures adopted against North Korea in 2006 and 2009, the Council said in a measure known as a presidential statement.
“The Security Council deplores that such a launch has caused grave security concerns in the region,” the statement said.
Such statements do not carry the diplomatic weight of a Security Council resolution. But the Council’s unanimous response and its quickness to act underscored the near total isolation that North Korea’s young new leader, Kim Jong-un, faces over this issue.
In his first public speech since he was promoted to the top leadership posts, Mr. Kim — a grandson of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il-sung, the cultish figure with whom he shares a remarkable resemblance — said in the capital, Pyongyang, on Sunday that his top priority would be to strengthen the military.
Mr. Kim, who has been leading North Korea’s gala celebrations commemorating the centenary of his grandfather’s birth, made no mention of the rocket’s failure. But the 20-minute speech, broadcast live, was a significant departure from the secretive practices of his father, Kim Jong-il, his predecessor in North Korea’s ruling Kim family.
North Korea’s launching on Friday, which defied weeks of international warnings, set off a flurry of negotiations among Security Council members on how to deal with the North’s repeated provocative behavior. Its statement on Monday warned that the Council would “take action accordingly” if North Korea conducted an additional rocket launching or a nuclear test.
The Council directed its sanctions committee to “designate additional entities and items” that could help North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.
A similar censure from the Council angered North Korea after its failed launching of a satellite in April 2009. North Korea walked out of nuclear disarmament talks in protest and, a month later, conducted its second nuclear test.
That led the Council to adopt a much stronger resolution mandating more sanctions. The North’s Foreign Ministry two days later announced that the country was enriching uranium, an activity that would give the country a new way of making atomic bombs in addition to its old plutonium weapons program. North Korea unveiled an advanced uranium-enrichment plant in 2010.
Analysts have expressed fear that a similar cycle of condemnation and protest will be repeated over the North’s failed satellite launching last week. And this time, they said, North Korea might raise the level of its defiance by detonating a uranium-fueled bomb, although it remained uncertain whether the country had acquired enough highly enriched uranium for a bomb.
South Korea’s government welcomed the Security Council action on Monday. “North Korea should no longer engage in provocative activities that harm peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and northeast Asia,” said Cho Byung-jae, a government spokesman.
Earlier on Monday, Kurt M. Campbell, the American assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said during a trip to Seoul that the United States and its allies were determined to prevent any further provocations from North Korea.
The rocket failure had raised conjecture that the North Korean leadership might embark on a purge to assign blame. But video footage from a large military parade on Sunday in Pyongyang showed that two party officials in charge of the North’s defense industries — Pak To-chun, party secretary for munitions industries, and Ju Kyu-chang, director of the party’s department for machinery industries — were present in their military uniforms.
Another important official connected to the North’s nuclear and missile programs, Paek Se-bong, head of the country’s Second Economic Commission, retained his seat on the country’s powerful National Defense Commission.
Also on Monday, Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korean newspaper in Japan that often speaks for the North’s government, said North Korea would embark on developing a rocket much bigger than the Unha-3, the rocket that disintegrated Friday a few moments after liftoff.
The Unha-3 took off from a new launching pad near the western border with China. Experts who have examined the site through satellite imagery have said it was designed for bigger rockets than the Unha-3.
Original article can be found here.