North Korea to boost nuclear deterrent after U.N. rebuke

UNITED NATIONS Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:45am 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 U.N. Security Council unanimously condemned North Korea's December rocket launch and expanded existing U.N. sanctions, and Pyongyang reacted with a vow to boost the North's military and nuclear capabilities.

While the resolution approved by the 15-nation council on Tuesday does not impose new sanctions on Pyongyang, diplomats said Beijing's support for it was a significant diplomatic blow to Pyongyang.

The resolution said the council "deplores the violations" by North Korea of its previous resolutions, which banned Pyongyang from conducting further ballistic missile and nuclear tests and from importing materials and technology for those programs.

It also said the council "expresses its determination to take significant action in the event of a further DPRK (North Korean) launch or nuclear test".

North Korea reacted quickly, saying it would hold no more talks on the de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula and would boost its military and nuclear capabilities.

"We will take measures to boost and strengthen our defensive military power including nuclear deterrence," its Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency KCNA.

The United States' special envoy on North Korea, arriving in Seoul on Wednesday to meet his South Korean counterparts, urged Pyongyang to back down from further provocative actions but left the door open for dialogue.

"If they can... begin to take concrete steps to indicate their interests in returning to diplomacy, they may find willing partners in that process," Glyn Davies told reporters.

Six-party talks aimed at halting North Korea's nuclear program have involved North Korea, the United States, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea. They have been held intermittently since 2003 but have stalled since 2008.

Russia's foreign minister said on Wednesday that North Korea should pay heed to the international community and adhere to limits on its missile and nuclear programs.

South Korea says the North is technically ready for a third nuclear test, and satellite images show it is actively working on its nuclear site. However, political analysts said they viewed a test as unlikely in the near-term.

"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 of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.

There are concerns that North Korea could stage a test using highly enriched uranium for the first time, which would give it a second path to a nuclear bomb and enable it to preserve its stocks of plutonium, which are believed to be sufficient for about 12 nuclear devices.

The U.N. resolution added six North Korean entities, including Pyongyang's space agency, the Korean Committee for Space Technology, and the man heading it, Paek Chang-ho, to an existing U.N. blacklist.

BLACKLISTED

The firms and individuals will all face an international asset freeze, while Paek and the others blacklisted by Tuesday's resolution -- the manager of the rocket launch center and two North Korean banking officials -- will face a global travel ban.

In addition to the space agency, the council blacklisted the Bank of East Land, Korea Kumryong Trading Corp., Tosong Technology Trading Corp., Korea Ryonha Machinery Joint Venture Corp., and Leader (Hong Kong) International.

Leader, based in Hong Kong, is an agent for KOMID, a North Korean mining and trading company that was sanctioned in 2009 and is the North's main arms dealer, the resolution said.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice welcomed the resolution, describing it as introducing "new sanctions" against 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.

Other diplomats, however, said on condition of anonymity that describing the measures in Tuesday's resolution were new sanctions would be an exaggeration.

China, the North's only major diplomatic ally, said on Monday the Security Council needed to pass a cautious resolution on North Korea, adding that this was the best way to ensure regional tensions did not escalate further.

Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong said certain elements in the resolution's original draft, which in China's view would "jeopardize" normal trade between North Korea and other countries, had been removed, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

"Sanctions and resolutions alone do not work," Xinhua quoted him as saying. "Resolutions must be completed and supplemented by diplomatic efforts."

Several diplomats said Beijing's decision to back the resolution sent a strong message to Pyongyang.

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

The United States had wanted to punish North Korea for the rocket launch with a Security Council resolution that imposed entirely new sanctions against Pyongyang, but Beijing rejected that option. China agreed to U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang after North Korea's 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.

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.

North and South Korea are still technically at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty.

(Additional reporting by Jumin Park, David Chance and Jack Kim in SEOUL, and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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Comments (6)
Wassup wrote:
In the same vein as passing gun laws, it is remarkable how supposedly intelligent, but lacking in common sense politicians can see that it’s almost impossible to deal with insane idiots like North Korea or Iran by passing sanctions or laws against them. The answer to to just blow them away when they fuss with us too much and put them out of their misery once and for all. Bless their hearts…..In the enriched environment of “being politically correct” led by Obama, it will never happen. Our leadership would rather lie down and roll over to these morons rather than to give them the consequences for messing with us.

Jan 22, 2013 10:45pm EST  --  Report as abuse
frankysbride wrote:
I would say about North Korea, that most people who live there do not know what is going on internationally due to their government’s information or lack thereof to them, and they have been subjected to almost famine due to their government’s policies. It is a Real problem for the US or any other nation to deal with North Korea, in that there appears to be a complete dichotomy regarding information between the North Korean government and the people who live in North Korea.

Jan 23, 2013 12:54am EST  --  Report as abuse
xyz2055 wrote:
Blah blah blah..much ado about nothing. Neither North Korea nor Iran pose any significant risk to the U.S. The sanctions are perfect. It keeps these two countries isolated and their economies oppressed with not causing any significant damage financially or other wise to the U.S. Let them both spew all the rhetoric and saber rattling they want. Attacking either of these countries would do little more than boost the ego of a few war mongering cowboy’s. And cause much bigger problems.

Jan 23, 2013 1:30am EST  --  Report as abuse
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