| North Korea’s ambassador to the UN, Pak Gil Yon, waits before the Security Council convened for the vote on Saturday. (AP)
Washington, Oct. 15 (Reuters): The US today insisted that China had an obligation to help enforce new UN sanctions on North Korea for its claimed nuclear test, despite Beijing’s misgivings over the risk of provoking Pyongyang.
But in a bid to mollify China, essential to the success of a Security Council resolution passed yesterday, secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said Washington wants to implement it in a way that avoids “open conflict” with North Korea.
China joined in the Council’s 15-0 approval of a US-drafted package financial and weapons sanctions against North Korea, its old Communist ally. But Beijing expressed strong reservations about a provision to allow international searches of cargo going to and from North Korea for weapons of mass destruction or related supplies.
North Korea’s UN ambassador, Pak Gil Yon, walked out of the Security Council meeting after accusing members of “gangster-like” action and warning that Pyongyang considered any further US pressure a “declaration of war”.
The diplomatic flurry that preceded yesterday’s vote continued afterward.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tokyo would consider further punitive steps against the reclusive communist state.
Rice was also set to visit Japan, South Korea and China later in the week to discuss enforcing the resolution.
“I am quite certain that China is going to live up to its responsibilities,” Rice said. “I’m quite certain that China has no interest in seeing the proliferation of dangerous materials from North Korea.”
The resolution, which called Pyongyang’s action a “clear threat to international peace and security”, bars trade with North Korea in dangerous weapons, imposes bans on heavy conventional weapons and luxury goods and asks nations to freeze funds connected to its non-conventional arms programmes.
“The North Koreans now face a united front that will not allow them to pursue their nuclear programmes without consequences,” Rice said.
Japanese foreign minister Taro Aso said North Korea had to “take concrete measures to resolve the issue”.
Enforcement will depend largely on whether those who trade with North Korea honour the bans imposed by the resolution.
Most of Pyongyang’s trade crosses through China, which fears a flood of refugees if the Pyongyang government collapses. North Korea also rests between China’s border and South Korea, where 25,000 US troops are stationed.
In Seoul, the South Korean foreign ministry said it would “faithfully implement” the resolution. But South Korea has said it will not pull the plug on its two main projects in the North, an industrial park and a mountain resort, which supply steady cash to Pyongyang’s leaders.
China warned the 15 Security Council members not to take “provocative steps”, in particular the cargo inspections. The provision was toned down at Beijing’s request, but still authorises countries to inspect cargo.
John Bolton, US ambassador to the UN, said Washington hopes searches at sea can mostly be avoided.