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(News Focus) 'Strongest sanctions' on NK, output of artful U.N. diplomacy

All Headlines 05:25 March 08, 2013

By Lee Chi-dong

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, March 7 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. says it is confident that new U.N. sanctions against North Korea will "bite hard." China calls the resolution "balanced."

Resolution 2094 is a product of more than three weeks of haggling between the so-called "G-2," a familiar pattern at the U.N. Security Council in dealing with North Korea's provocations.

U.N. diplomats describe it as the art of U.N. diplomacy.

"These are the strongest and most comprehensive sanctions on North Korea," Kim Sook, South Korea's ambassador to the U.N., told reporters, putting the level of sanctions on par with those on Iran.

"China played a positive role in adopting the toughened resolution," he added.

Kim did not elaborate but his comments indicate that China, a permanent member of the council and long-time patron of North Korea, made some concessions.

The U.S. and its allies also initially pushed for leaving open the use of military force if needed in curbing the transfer of illicit materials to and from North Korea.

"The issue of inspecting North Korean cargo was a sticking point," an informed source said on the condition of anonymity. "It took relatively a long time for the U.S. and China to negotiate how strictly (U.N. member states) carry out the inspection of North Korean cargo."

China expressed concern that such a measure may trigger an armed clash, said the source.

Both sides stepped back and agreed on strong but limited authority to stop and inspect ships and airplanes suspected to be involved in North Korea's arms smuggling and proliferation.

It requires states to deny port access to any North Korean vessel that refuses to be inspected and also denies permission to any suspicious aircraft to take off from, land in or overfly their territory.

On the financial front, the resolution places more restrictions on North Korea's transactions of funds for weapons development either through banks abroad or by suitcases full of cash.

It "calls on states to exercise enhanced vigilance over North Korean diplomats to prevent them from contributing to North Korea's nuclear or ballistic missile-programs, engaging in other activities prohibited by Security Council resolutions or evading sanctions."

It also bans the transfer of specific items to North Korea, including certain kinds of jewelry and precious stones, yachts, luxury automobiles and racing cars.

"Taken together, these sanctions will bite and bite hard," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said. "They increase North Korea's isolation and raise the cost to North Korea's leaders of defying the international community."

China's foreign ministry said it welcomes the U.N.'s "necessary and moderate" response to North Korea's latest nuclear test.

It's noteworthy that China views the level of sanctions "moderate," while the U.S. and South Korea call it strong.

"That is the art of U.N. diplomacy. After fierce debates and negotiations, each side expresses satisfaction," a diplomat privy to the U.N. diplomacy said.

An open question is how the new resolution will be implemented.

South Korean officials say it will bring real pain to the North Korean regime.

They believe China will cooperate as its U.N. envoy has repeatedly stated that Beijing is a responsible global player that abides by international obligations.

Many experts agree that Beijing holds the key again.

"They will have little impact on their own," Ken Gause, the director of CNA Strategic Studies' International Affairs Group, said. "If China fully supports the sanctions, Pyongyang will feel the pain."

Regardless of the impact of U.N. sanctions, Gause said, North Korea is unlikely to give in and give up its nuclear program.

Although the fresh U.N. resolution lays a new foundation for international response to future North Korean provocations, it would not mean the demise of diplomacy on Pyongyang, observers say.

While North Korea continues threats of military retaliation, the U.S. and its allies are expected to concentrate on implementing their own sanctions for the time being, followed by a "cooling-off period" and diplomatic work to resume dialogue.

It's another familiar pattern in the wake of North Korea's provocative acts.

China is expected to serve as a main player again in efforts to bring Pyongyang back to the bargaining table, officials and experts agree.



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