North Korea Sidelines Iranian Nuclear Crisis
Security Council Holds Emergency Meeting, Iran Agenda Pushed
North Korea’s claims of a nuclear bomb test have prompted immediate world reaction and condemnation and pushed the Iranian nuclear crisis from the top of the atomic agenda as the United Nations plans emergency meetings to consider possible sanctions against the Kim Jong-Il regime. As Iran watches the world reaction carefully – particularly Security Council measures – world leaders struggle to find a common course acceptable in the face of the North Korean recalcitrant threat.
Effectively pushing Iran to second-tier crisis level, an emergency meeting for the Security Council will take place today to consider measures to be potentially imposed against the already sanctioned regime. Reuters reported a summary of key sanction proposals proffered by the United States to the Security Council as follows:
• Authorize international inspections of all cargo going in and out of North Korea for weapons of mass destruction and other related materials.
• Suspend all activities related to ballistic missile programs.
• A ban on trade in materials with direct or dual use application for weapons of mass destruction.
• A ban on all North Korean financial transactions that support missile activities.
• A ban on all trade in military goods and services.
• A ban on trade in luxury goods.
• A freeze on all assets and transaction associated with weapons of mass destruction.
• A requirement that nations prevent the abuse of international financial systems, a reference to claims that North Korea has counterfeited U.S. dollars.• A review of North Korea’s response within 30 days.
Many states have already expressed the will to impose their own unilateral sanctions against North Korea regardless of a UN tack. Australia announced that it will curtail visas in addition to any UN sanctions; Japan is considering ratcheting up existing harsh economic sanctions against North Korea; and the United States can be expected to pass some form of measure through Congress similar to the Iran Freedom Support Act recently passed and signed by President Bush, which calls for unilateral US sanctions against Iran for its nuclear pursuits.
But, while China initially had the harshest response for the North Koreans, calling their defiant tests “brazen,” Chinese President Hu Jintao indicated that China may not offer full support for extensive sanctions in the Security Council as he said that China has always sought a “peaceful settlement of the Korean nuclear issue through dialogue and negotiation.” South Korea, mindful of the ominous threat of North Korean conventional missile, rocket and artillery to Seoul, reiterated that it did not support any military reaction to the North Korean provocation.
In spite of recent revelations that the father of the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, had secretly written in 1988 that Iran must pursue a nuclear weapon while the regime publicly declared them against the tenets of Islam, a spokesman for the Iranian regime again condemned nuclear weapons and blamed the United States for the North Korean nuclear ambitions and test. Even in light of the Khomeini letter which effectively discredits the mullahs public claims against nuclear weapons, the state-run Fars News Agency quotes Iranian government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham as saying, “Iran’s opposition to the nuclear weapons rises from the Iranian nation’s beliefs and ideology.” He also added, “Iran is against the use and production of nuclear weapons. No country is competent to use nuclear weapons.”
With the furor generated by the North Korean nuclear tests, the Iranian nuclear crisis has been relegated to a lesser urgency at the Security Council and Iran will be monitoring both world reaction and United Nations action against the Kim Jong-Il regime, possibly sizing up consequential reaction should they openly perform their own nuclear test in the future.