Bolton Urges Tough Action Against North Korea
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
UNITED NATIONS — The American ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, pushed yesterday for a tough response to North Korea’s planned nuclear test, warning the “divided” U.N. Security Council against sending a message to Pyongyang that its “protectors” are preventing effective Turtle Bay action.
But other Security Council members balked at toughening the council’s response, suggesting instead that diplomatic overtures be made to restart the Beijing-based six-party talks. The Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, Wang Guangya, called for “more creative thinking” in Washington.
Diplomats said some council members were concerned about creating a precedent on North Korea that also could be used against Iran.
As talks between the Iranian nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, and the European Union foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, broke off yesterday, it was clear the Iranian issue would soon return to the Security Council agenda.
“There is no connection whatsoever,” the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, told The New York Sun. Still, some ideas that have been used in the past to unite the council behind resolutions on North Korea have been brought into play later on other issues.
Yesterday’s unusually testy public exchange between the American and Chinese diplomats took place as satellite pictures indicated North Korea might act soon on its threat to test a nuclear device. Intelligence satellites picked up an unusual movement of vehicles at potential test sites, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a U.N.-based diplomat who follows nuclear issues told the Sun that if Pyongyang conducts a nuclear test, the West can easily detect it using seismographs that measure tremors or American spy planes patrolling near the border that pick up radiation levels.
Japan’s new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said yesterday that he will hold separate summits with President Roh of South Korea and President Hu of China on Sunday and Monday.
Diplomats here have suggested that the diplomatic thaw among Pyongyang’s neighbors, as well as the selection of Seoul’s foreign minister, Ban Ki-moon, as the next U.N. secretary-general, may have played a role in the timing of North Korea’s latest saber-rattling.
But Mr. Bolton said he did not think Pyongyang’s threats were merely “an attention-getting device.”
Beyond mere statements, he called for a strong council response based on a comprehensive and deliberate strategy.
The Japanese ambassador to the United Nations, Kenzo Oshima, however, urged “swift” action yesterday and quickly circulated a proposal for a nonbinding council statement. The document says councilmembers express “deep concern” about North Korea; that they “urge” Pyongyang not to make good on its threat; and that they “remind” the regime of earlier council resolutions on North Korea.
The regime will not be impressed by anything short of “strong action,” Mr. Bolton said. Its leaders will “misread a weak press statement or presidential statement as meaning that their protectors within the council have made it clear the council can’t act effectively,” he added.
Mr. Wang took issue with his “good friend John Bolton,” however, saying he was not sure which countries Mr. Bolton was referring to when he spoke of Pyongyang’s “protectors.” On the council, he said, “nobody is willing to protect” North Korea. Still, the council is the wrong forum to address the issue, he said.
Instead, he called for a renewal of the six-party talks, which include North Korea, America, China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea. The talks were suspended more than a year ago after Pyongyang withdrew.
“All six parties are important,” Mr. Wang said, though he added there should be “less mistrust” between Washington and Pyongyang. “If North Korea adopts a more constructive approach, this would enable us to make progress,” he said. “Also, if the U.S. could be more creative in their thinking, it would certainly help.”
China is North Korea’s main economic benefactor, while America has maintained strict sanctions against Kim Jong-Il’s regime. “They are sanctioned to death,” a European diplomat said. “I don’t think any more sanctions would make any difference.”
If North Korea tests a nuclear device, Mr. Bolton said, the council should certainly invoke Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which provides for universal sanctions or “action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to restore international peace and security.”
In July, under Mr. Bolton’s leadership, the council passed a compromise resolution on North Korea that invoked only some of the provisions of Chapter 7.
Mr. Bolton hinted at several steps beyond that resolution yesterday, saying, “We are prepared to consider other measures.” He said he hoped other members of the council will “be thinking strategically as well.”