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Rival N. Korea resolution drops military threat

China and Russia introduced a resolution Wednesday deploring North Korea’s missile tests but dropping language from a rival proposal that could have led to military action.
/ Source: news services

China and Russia introduced a resolution Wednesday deploring North Korea’s missile tests but dropping language from a rival proposal that could have led to military action against Pyongyang.

The draft, obtained by The Associated Press, “strongly deplores” North Korea’s missile tests last week and urges Pyongyang to re-establish a moratorium on such launches.

It calls on — but does not demand — that all U.N. member states “exercise vigilance in preventing supply of items, materials, goods and technologies that could contribute” to North Korea’s missile program.

The resolution also calls on all members “not to procure missiles or missile-related items” or technology from the North.

China’s U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya said he had been instructed to veto a much- stronger Japanese resolution, which is supported by the U.S., Britain, France and four other countries.

Wang previously said Beijing objected to three key elements in the Japanese draft: the determination that the missile tests threatened international peace and security; authorizing action under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter which can be enforced militarily; and mandatory sanctions aimed at curbing North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.

The Chinese-Russian draft resolution drops those three elements, which Japan and the United States consider crucial.

Japan’s U.N. Ambassador Kenzo Oshima and U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said they were still prepared to put their resolution to a vote — even with the prospect of a Chinese veto.

No signs of cooperation
North Korea shows no sign of responding to efforts to persuade the reclusive nation to ease tensions over its missile tests and return to multilateral talks, a senior U.S. envoy said on Wednesday.

North Korea sidestepped pressure from South Korea at their first meeting since the North test-fired a barrage of missiles on July 4th to explain why it had defied international warnings that the tests would pose a grave security threat to the region.

Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said in a meeting with Chinese officials in Beijing, the United States and China share a sense of common purpose with North Korea over the missile launchings.

“It is clear to me that China is working very hard and taking its responsibilities very, very seriously,” said Hill, the chief U.S. envoy for North Korea. “We don’t have any signs that the DPRK (North Korea) attaches the same importance to the six-party talks,” Hill told reporters.

The talks among the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States have been stalled since November because Pyongyang objected to U.S. financial sanctions based on accusations North Korea counterfeited U.S. currency and trafficked drugs.

But in the latest indication of how difficult it has been to coordinate a response to North Korea, Beijing on Wednesday urged Washington to resolve its dispute with Pyongyang over the sanctions.

“It’s affecting the progress of the six-party talks and we hope that it will be clarified and resolved as quickly as possible,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters.

Stalled U.N. action
While North Korea’s counterparts in the talks have all denounced the tests, and urged it to return to the six-country talks, they have been unable to agree at the United Nations on a U.N. Security Council resolution.

U.S. ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer said on Wednesday both Japan and the United States still want a U.N. Security Council resolution that would force countries to withhold funds, material and technology that could be used for North Korea’s missile program.

Japan, backed by Washington and Britain, has pushed for the resolution. But China and Russia, which have veto power on the council, have been opposed.

At cabinet-level talks between the two Koreas in Pusan, South Korea, the North Korean delegation referred to a statement last week by its Foreign Ministry that insisted the country had a right to develop and test missiles.

“The missile issue and (the North’s) return to six-party talks took up most of our remarks,” senior Unification Ministry official, Lee Kwan-se, told reporters in the South Korean port city of Pusan.

End to tests?
In one sign of decreasing tension, North Korea on Tuesday ended a maritime restriction on waters to the east of the peninsula where its missiles landed a week ago, a South Korean transport official said.

Kim Geun-su said by telephone this indicated a decreased likelihood for now of additional tests, prompting South Korea on Wednesday to end restrictions for its commercial jets along a corridor northeast of the peninsula and stretching over Russia.

China has hinted it will veto Japan’s proposed U.N. sanctions against North Korea and also, with South Korea, has accused Tokyo of overreacting and adding to tensions.

Backers of the draft had postponed a vote pending the outcome of a Chinese visit to Pyongyang.

South Korea wants the international community to send a stern message to North Korea over its missile launch but is not certain if sanctions proposed by Japan are the best way to get that done, Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said at a press briefing.