The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 70/No. 41           October 30, 2006  
UN Security Council approves
harsh sanctions on north Korea
(front page)
October 18—In a major diplomatic victory for the U.S. government, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously October 14 to impose harsh sanctions and inspect all cargo going to and coming from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The resolution “cannot be construed otherwise than a declaration of war,” said an October 17 statement from north Korea’s foreign ministry. The DPRK “wants peace but is not afraid of war.”

The resolution invokes Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which allows for “enforcement” of its provisions through military action or breaking diplomatic ties. A clause preventing immediate military action under the UN banner helped secure approval of the resolution by both Moscow and Beijing. Washington drafted the document after the north Korean government announced October 8 it had conducted a nuclear bomb test.

The resolution calls on all states to inspect cargo to or from north Korea. It orders Pyongyang to abandon all its “existing nuclear programs” and weapons programs “in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner.” It also bans the import or export of material or equipment that could be used to make nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, heavy military equipment, spare parts, and materials deemed “luxury items.” It orders all states to freeze the assets and ban travel of any individuals accused of supporting north Korea’s weapons program.

“These are very tough sanctions, they’re among the toughest ever imposed on any country by the United Nations,” said U.S. undersecretary for political affairs Nicholas Burns October 16. The broad scope of the sanctions means that a number of household items can be banned if Washington or its allies claim they can be used as components for “weapons of mass destruction.”

“The DPRK totally rejects the unjustifiable resolution,” said Pak Gil-yon, north Korea’s ambassador to the UN, right after the Security Council vote. “It is gangster like for the Security Council to have adopted today a coercive resolution while neglecting the nuclear threat and moves for sanctions and pressure of the United States against the DPRK,” said Pak, who walked out of the room.

Washington, which holds the world’s largest nuclear arsenal and is also the only government to have ever used nuclear weapons in warfare, maintains 30,000 troops on the Korean peninsula and nuclear-armed warships in the surrounding waters. In recent months, it has tightened financial sanctions against the DPRK and increased military collaboration with its allies in the Pacific.

NBC reported today that Pyongyang has informed Beijing of intentions to conduct "a series of underground nuclear tests."

"We have…many nuclear arsenals surrounding us, in South Korea and in nearby Japan," north Korea's deputy director of Foreign Affairs Li Gun told ABC news. "And they have had new exercises."  
Beijing begins inspections
“This is a Security Council resolution, under Chapter VII, Article 41, and, therefore, the resolution has to be implemented,” Wang Guangya, China’s ambassador to the UN, said October 16. Wang had said immediately after the vote that his government would not enforce the cargo inspections. But the next day, Chinese customs agents were stopping and inspecting trucks bound for north Korea in the border town of Dandong.

“Inspections yes, but inspections are different from interception and interdiction,” said Wang.

The DPRK receives 70 percent of its food and fuel from China, its largest trading partner.

The New York Times said October 16 that some Chinese banks near the border with north Korea had begun refusing to handle cash remittances to and from the DPRK. In July, the Bank of China froze north Korea’s assets. In October 2005 Washington blacklisted eight north Korean firms they accused of counterfeiting for Pyongyang. Banks in Vietnam, Japan, and Singapore all followed suit. The combined measures have nearly eliminated Pyongyang’s access to hard currency and therefore its ability to trade.

Choo Kyu-ho, spokesman for south Korea’s foreign ministry, said October 16 that Seoul “will go ahead” with joint economic ventures with Pyongyang. Seoul has pledged to “faithfully implement” the Security Council resolution, Choo said, but “we judged that the contents…do not directly affect the economic cooperation programs.”  
A new ‘coalition of the willing’
U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice arrived in Tokyo today for a tour of Japan, China, south Korea, and Russia. “Rice plans to seek commitments from China and other North Korean neighbors for a sweeping inspections program to monitor all cargo shipped to or from the would-be nuclear power,” reported the October 17 Chicago Tribune. The action, it said, “amounts to a virtual blockade—albeit one imposed on the ports, frontiers and airfields of North Korea’s trading partners rather than on the seas surrounding the nation.”

In pushing for the resolution, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said Washington would seek to “increase its defense cooperation with allies, including ballistic missile defense” as part of enforcing the measures.

Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said October 15 that Washington would use the UN resolution to explore forming a “security” alliance in Asia parallel to NATO.

“We finally have the right coalition of states to put enormous pressure on north Korea to reverse its course,” Rice said on Fox News Sunday. Asked if Washington would put together another “coalition of the willing” to carry out the “interdiction” of shipments into and out of north Korea, Rice replied, “We believe that there may be other steps that will be necessary given North Korea’s behavior.”

The Japanese government is driving ahead its own punitive measures. Before the Security Council resolution was adopted, Tokyo decided to deny entry to its ports to all vessels from north Korea. It also banned all imports from north Korea and barred north Korean citizens from entering Japan. Shoichi Nakagawa, chairman of the ruling party’s Policy Research Council, urged a discussion on developing a nuclear arsenal in Japan.

, Japan’s foreign minister, Taro Aso, said Tokyo would provide “logistical support” to U.S. vessels inspecting north Korean cargo based on a 1999 law freeing up Japanese military forces to collaborate with U.S. forces in an “emergency situation in surrounding areas.”

Washington and Tokyo have collaborated in stopping and boarding north Korean ships under the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) since 2003. The PSI establishes the “right” of imperialist governments or their allies to stop, board, inspect, and confiscate cargo of any vessels they accuse of carrying “suspect” materials.  
Military moves
The New York Times cited anonymous military officials October 9 saying the Pentagon has “quietly shifted” substantial numbers of air force bombers and other warplanes from the United States to Asia in the event of a naval blockade or other action against north Korea.

Australia’s prime minister, John Howard, announced that his government was considering offering up Australian warships to participate in any naval blockade of north Korea directed at enforcing the resolution. On October 16 Canberra banned all north Korean ships from docking at Australian ports.

Beijing urged some caution. “We must be careful that it won’t be carried out in such a way like a quarantine, searching every ship going in and out of a country,” Wang told the press October 16. “Most countries consider that an act of war.”

Meanwhile, Democrats in the United States are criticizing the Bush administration from the right. Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean accused the White House of taking “its eye off the ball.” He argued that Iran and north Korea, not Iraq, should be the main targets of the U.S. “war on terror.”

“Democrats believe we need a new direction that acknowledges the facts on the ground and makes fighting and winning the war on terror the top priority,” Dean said.
Related articles:
Lift sanctions on Korea!
U.S. imperialism hands off! No to acts of piracy!
All U.S. troops and weapons out of Korean peninsula!
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