10 October 2006 United Nations Security Council members today continued discussions over what action to take against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) after its reported nuclear test, with the issue of possible sanctions and their enforcement among the key topics.
“We have not yet been able to get down to the very specifics but generally I think we’ve been able to have a fairly good understanding of the positions of each other, where we stand and what we would like to achieve,” Council President for October Ambassador Kenzo Oshima of Japan, told reporters after a meeting of the five permanent members.
The five – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and United States – have the power to veto any resolution. As they gathered, a separate meeting at experts’ level continued discussions they had started on the issue yesterday. Further meetings at both levels were planned for later today. The other members of the 15-member body are non-permanent and have no veto powers.
“Obviously we’re going to need more consultations both at expert level and at ambassadors’ level. We also need to talk with other members of the Council,” Mr. Oshima said, adding that one focus of attention was the question of whether to invoke Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which can allow for sanctions and use of force in the case of a threat to or breach of peace.
He said some members have already received initial instructions from their governments while others are still waiting.
“So all I can say is that we’re having a very good discussion and trying to identify what really we are going to be able to achieve. I think there is general understanding also about the need to get our act together – and fast,” he added.
In consultations yesterday, Council members strongly condemned the reported test, and called on the DPRK to refrain from further testing and return to the so-called Six-Party Talks that have been seeking to resolve the issue of its nuclear programme.
The Talks between China, DPRK, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States have been going on sporadically in Beijing for several years.
On Friday the Council warned the DPRK of unspecified action if it went ahead with the test, which it said would represent a clear threat to international peace and security.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan and UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei yesterday also called for urgent resumption of the Six-Party Talks.
Mr. Annan said the reported test “violates international norms of disarmament and non-proliferation, as well as the current international moratorium on nuclear testing… it aggravates regional tensions in and around the Korean Peninsula, and jeopardizes security both in the region and beyond.”
Mr. ElBaradei said it “threatens the nuclear non-proliferation regime and creates serious security challenges not only for the East Asian region but also for the international community.”
Addressing the General Assembly’s First Committee on Disarmament and International Security yesterday, DPRK representative Pak Gil Yon said that while his country’s ultimate goal was the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, it had been compelled to possess a nuclear deterrent for self-defence after the United States had threatened his country with nuclear weapons and designated it as a target for pre-emptive attack.
It was gangster-like logic that only big countries could possess nuclear weapons and attack and threaten small countries with them, he added. Such a double-standard reduced the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and other disarmament conventions to dead documents without any binding force. It was also the reality today that, whether missile launch or nuclear test, if the US approved, it was tolerated and would not be brought to the UN.