No Enforcement In Approved North Korea Sanctions
With a vote that nonetheless eventually happened today, China and Russia again delayed UN Security Council action against North Korea, as more objections were raised Saturday after initial objections were successfully addressed Friday. Objections were raised concerning the potential of US ships interdicting and inspecting North Korea-bound shipping close to Chinese and Russian borders.
But in the end, the UN Security Council ultimately voted today to impose sanctions on North Korea. As presented by the BBC, those sanctions reportedly include:
- Demands North Korea eliminate all its nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.
- Requires all countries to prevent the sale or transfer of materials related to Pyongyang’s unconventional weapons programs, as well as large-sized military items such as tanks, missiles and helicopters.
- Demands nations freeze funds overseas of people or businesses connected with North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
- Allows nations to inspect cargo moving in and out of North Korea in pursuit of non-conventional weapons.
- Is not backed up by the threat of military force.
- Calls on Pyongyang to return “without precondition” to stalled six-nation talks on its nuclear program.
This seemingly opens the door for the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) member-states to interdict shipments to and from North Korea. The original eleven members of the Proliferation Security Initiative included Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and England. The membership has grown by dozens since 2003 and includes Russia but not China.
According to earlier reports shortly before the vote, the language of the proposed sanctions “now says local authorities will cooperate in the inspection process.” What is meant by “local authorities” is unclear, but could mean Russian and Chinese lead in any inspection effort.
If so, this could be a potentially troubling development, as China – while voicing displeasure over the nuclear test - is North Korea’s largest ally and, PSI membership notwithstanding, Russian actions surrounding the North Korean nuclear test raise more questions than comfort under scrutiny, especially the unsupported and since-disproven Russian claim of a nuclear blast 20 to 30 times greater than all other estimates. Not even the Russian seismic data supported the estimates publicly put forth by Moscow, which has brought the motivation behind such a claim into question.
Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Ivanov, warned the United States that sanctions against North Korea must not contain threat of force saying, “These sanctions mustn’t contain even a hint at use of force and mustn’t be directed against the North Korean people.” Meanwhile, the overt North Korean threats against Japan and the United States amidst missile and nuclear warhead testing continue to crescendo. The provision referencing the use of force as a last-resort enforcement mechanism was ultimately stricken from the sanctions language.
Even more troubling is the specter of Iranian involvement in the North Korean nuclear test, just as it was involved in North Korea’s July 4th multiple-missile test launchings. It was confirmed that leading members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were present at the North Korean launches. John Batchelor did a bit of reporting in a New York Sun Tuesday opinion piece, Persian Hands, that “It is logical, and now confirmed, that Iranian agents were present at the test site…” The well-connected author also suggested that the Iranians bought and paid for both the July missile tests and last week’s nuclear warhead test.
While the Iranians have been keenly observing the Security Council reaction to the North Korean nuclear test and accompanying bellicosity, the North Koreans were also observing the Security Council’s silent and motionless reaction to Iran’s defiance of their demands of halting uranium enrichment, which continues unabated to this day.
With no provision for the use of force as an enforcement mechanism, many observers believe North Korea can be expected to ignore the UN Security Council demands that it “eliminate all its nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles,” as this is a tall order to place without the backing of force.