Saturday, June 13, 2009

UN widens sanctions on North Korea, China joins in

By Louis Charbonneau and Claudia Parsons

( - The UN Security Council unanimously approved wider sanctions against North Korea overnight over its May 25 nuclear test, a move close ally China said showed firm opposition to Pyongyang's atomic ambitions.

The sanctions resolution banned all weapons exports from North Korea and most arms imports into the reclusive communist state. It authorized UN member states to inspect North Korean sea, air and land cargo, requiring them to seize and destroy any goods transported in violation of the sanctions.

Both China and Russia, which had been reluctant to approve punitive measures against North Korea in the past, backed the US-drafted resolution, which is binding under international law.

China's UN ambassador, Zhang Yesui, said the resolution showed the "firm opposition" of the international community to North Korea's nuclear ambitions, but he urged countries to exercise caution when inspecting North Korean cargo.

"Under no circumstances should there be use or threat of the use of force," Mr Zhang said.

US Ambassador Susan Rice said Washington would press for full implementation of the sanctions and would not get into a "tit-for-tat reaction" to every provocation from Pyongyang.

"It would not be a surprise if North Korea reacted to this very tough sanctions regime in a fashion that would be further provocation and further destabilizing," she said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's press office issued a statement welcoming the 15-nation council's move.

"Acting unanimously and agreeing on credible measures, the members of the Security Council have sent today a clear and strong message to (North Korea)," the statement said, adding the South Korean UN chief would "spare no effort in facilitating the implementation of the resolution."

Two senior diplomats involved in the negotiations on the resolution said on condition of anonymity the Chinese had never really clarified whether they intended to implement the new sanctions resolution in contrast to earlier sanctions against North Korea that they ignored.

"The effectiveness of this resolution will depend on its enforcement," one of the diplomats said.

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