The United Nations Security council and communist North Korea have combined to prove that old adage that the best way to make someone want something is to tell them that they can’t have it.
The UN Security Council approved a new resolution on Tuesday, condemning North Korea for the its December rocket test and expanding the current sanctions against the ‘hermit state’. If the aim of this latest resolution was to convince Pyongyang to back away from its nuclear weapons programme, then it seems to have been a spectacular failure; almost immediately following the UN announcement N. Korea reacted by vowing to expand its military and nuclear capabilities.
Expanding Pressure on North Korea
“This resolution demonstrates to North Korea that there are unanimous and significant consequences for its flagrant violation of its obligations under previous resolutions,” she said.
Everyone else, however, seemed to be in agreement that the latest in a long line of UN resolutions on North Korea represented only a minor expansion of existing sanctions, rather than any new sanctions. The most significant part of this latest resolution was the fact that it won support from China – N. Korea’s biggest ally. Chinese support for the resolution will send a strong message to Pyongyang that the international community is united in its opposition to further nuclear testing.
China’s UN Ambassador Li Badong added a note of caution to their support for the resolution, however, saying to the Xinhua news agency that:
“Sanctions and resolutions alone do not work. Resolutions must be completed and supplemented by diplomatic efforts.”
Mr Badong had previously vetoed additional measures contained in the original draft resolution, which he claimed would jeopardize normal trade between China and North Korea.
Concrete measures introduced by the new resolution include an expansion of a program of international asset freezes and travel bans targeting top officials and companies associated with the government.
The North Korean Reaction
North Korea was swift to react to the announcement, saying that they would not engage in further talks on the de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and that they would take steps to boost the country’s military and nuclear capabilities.
“We will take measures to boost and strengthen our defensive military power including nuclear deterrence,” said a Foreign Ministry statement broadcast by the state news channel KCNA.
South Korea have claimed that their neighbours in the North are already prepared for a third nuclear test, and satellite photography has shown that work is taking place at a key nuclear facility. Although regional political analysts say that a nuclear test is unlikely in the near-term, it seems that Tuesday’s statement from the UN made it more, and not less likely.
“North Korea will likely take a sequenced strategy where the first stage response would be more militarily aggressive actions like another missile launch,” said Yang Moo-jin, from the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.
The worst case scenario would be that the North conducts its first nuclear test using highly enriched uranium, a move which (if successful) would open up a second path to the development of a nuclear bomb, without depleting stocks of plutonium. North Korea is believed to have enough plutonium for around 12 nuclear weapons.