U.S., China in deal on U.N. North Korea rebuke; Russia to back it

UNITED NATIONS Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:09am EST

The Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) rocket carrying the second version of Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite, is launched at West Sea Satellite Launch Site in Cholsan county, North Pyongan province, December 12, 2012 in this picture released by the North's KCNA news agency in Pyongyang early December 14, 2012. REUTERS/KCNA

The Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) rocket carrying the second version of Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite, is launched at West Sea Satellite Launch Site in Cholsan county, North Pyongan province, December 12, 2012 in this picture released by the North's KCNA news agency in Pyongyang early December 14, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/KCNA

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States and China have struck a tentative deal on a draft U.N. Security Council resolution condemning North Korea for its December rocket launch, U.N. diplomats said on Friday, and Russia predicted it would be approved by the council.

The resolution would not impose new sanctions, but would call for expanding existing U.N. sanctions measures against Pyongyang, the envoys said on condition of anonymity. They added that China's support for the move would be a significant diplomatic blow to Pyongyang.

The 15-nation council could adopt the compromise resolution next week, they said.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin confirmed the diplomats' comments in remarks quoted by the Russian state-run RIA Novosti news agency, saying that adoption was likely early next week.

"I expect we will support it," RIA quoted Churkin as saying. "I don't expect that the U.N. Security Council members will have any serious problems (with the resolution)."

"Our position is that the North Korean rocket launch is a violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution, so the council should react," he said.

South Korea gave a guarded welcome to the tentative agreement.

"Although we (the government) may not be fully satisfied with the outcome, (we) will have to welcome it if it can help restrain the unpredictable North's ultra-provocative action," said a government spokesman in Seoul, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the diplomatic negotiations.

The two Koreas have been technically still at war since their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty.

The United States had wanted to punish North Korea with a U.N. Security Council resolution that imposed new sanctions against Pyongyang, but Beijing rejected that option.

Beijing had wanted the council to merely issue a statement calling for the council's North Korea sanctions committee to expand the existing U.N. blacklists, diplomats said.

The tentative deal, they said, was that Washington would forgo the idea of immediate new sanctions, while Beijing would accept the idea of a resolution instead of a statement, which makes the rebuke more forceful.

Assuming the North Korea sanctions committee agrees to expand existing measures, the resolution will ultimately lead to more stringent sanctions against Pyongyang.

"It might not be much but the Chinese move is significant," a council diplomat said. "The prospect of a (new) nuclear test might have been a game changer (for China)."

After North Korea's April 2012 rocket launch, the council passed a so-called "presidential statement" that condemned the move and urged the North Korea sanctions committee to tighten the existing U.N. sanctions regime.

The sanctions committee then blacklisted additional North Korean firms and broadened a list of items Pyongyang was banned from importing.

Washington was determined not to use the same formula as last year, so it insisted that the council adopt a resolution, not a presidential statement as China had wanted.

China is the North's only major diplomatic ally, though it agreed to U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang in the wake of North Korea's 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.

North Korea is already banned under Security Council resolutions from developing nuclear and missile technology but has been working steadily on its nuclear test site, possibly in preparation for a third nuclear test, satellite images show.

December's successful long-range rocket launch, the first to put a satellite in orbit, was a coup for North Korea's young leader Kim Jong-un.

It raised tensions in East Asia at the same time as Japan and South Korea elected new leaders. Washington wants them to mend relations after a dispute over an island claimed by both countries.

(Additional reporting by Steve Gutterman and Gabriela Baczynska in Moscow; Editing by Vicki Allen and Nick Macfie)

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Comments (3)
pbgd wrote:
Good heavens, what happened to Putin’s obstructionism? First he backs the Mali action, then he acceeds to criticism of North Korea — what next? Would he offer asylum to his buddy Assad?

Jan 20, 2013 4:46pm EST  --  Report as abuse
kafantaris wrote:
In their monolithic pursuit of nuclear weapons the North Korean and Iranian regimes have only succeeded in stifling economic development.
Yet these two regimes could have just as easily stirred their countries toward prosperity for the greater good of their people.
As things stand now, Iran has all but abandoned hope of seeking the country’s old Persian greatness; and North Korea daily has to contend with the far superior standard of living in its sister state.
Exactly how long will it take for these regimes to realize that in today’s world might is measured in economic terms?
indeed, even if North Korea or Iran had managed to amass Russia’s nuclear arsenal neither of them would be better off economically.
So what’s the point of this relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons when they no longer count?

Jan 23, 2013 12:09am EST  --  Report as abuse
kafantaris wrote:
In their monolithic pursuit of nuclear weapons the North Korean and Iranian regimes have only succeeded in stifling economic development.
Yet these two regimes could have just as easily stirred their countries toward prosperity for the greater good of their people.
As things stand now, Iran has all but abandoned hope of seeking the country’s old Persian greatness; and North Korea daily has to contend with the far superior standard of living in its sister state.
Exactly how long will it take for these regimes to realize that in today’s world might is measured in economic terms?
indeed, even if North Korea or Iran had managed to amass Russia’s nuclear arsenal neither of them would be better off economically.
So what’s the point of this relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons when they no longer count?

Jan 23, 2013 12:11am EST  --  Report as abuse
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