- The Washington Times - Monday, October 16, 2006

Top U.S. diplomats yesterday said they expected China to enforce sanctions unanimously passed by the U.N. Security Council to curtail North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

In an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said China, which shares an 880-mile border with North Korea and is Pyongyang’s principal trading partner, would shoulder the major responsibility of stopping trade with the isolated communist state. Without China’s cooperation on enforcement, sanctions likely would be ineffective.

“North Korea has a long border, as you say, with China. It also has very close relations with China, but China has come a very long way in being willing to sign on to a resolution that makes China now responsible to make certain that North Korea’s not trading,” said Miss Rice, who leaves tomorrow for a diplomatic trip to Asia, including a stop in Beijing.

“I’m quite certain that China is going to live up to its responsibilities,” she said.

John R. Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, made similar comments yesterday, saying that North Korea’s apparent nuclear test “had to have been humiliating to China,” which had been protecting Pyongyang from international sanctions for years.

China’s cutting its support “would be powerfully persuasive in Pyongyang,” he said. “They’ve not yet been willing to do it. I think that China has a heavy responsibility here.”

The final resolution passed by the Security Council on Saturday demands that North Korea scrap its nuclear-weapons program but rules out military action against the country, on the demand of the Russians and Chinese. It also orders countries to prevent North Korea from importing or exporting any material for ballistic missiles and to freeze the assets and restrict the travel of people or businesses connected to the country’s nuclear and missile programs.

That resolution passed by the Security Council is weaker than an earlier version that called for mandatory searches of ships entering and leaving North Korean waters and seizures of any weapons or goods that could be used to create a nuclear weapon. China, rejected that version along with Russia.

“Let’s remember, the inspections are a tool to effectuate the sanctions themselves. China voted in favor of the resolution. They eventually agreed to even broader sanctions,” said Mr. Bolton on ABC’s “This Week.”

“This means China itself now has an obligation to make sure it complies with the resolution, and it has full national authority on its side of the border to conduct any inspections it wants,” he said.

But China urged caution in a statement posted yesterday on its Foreign Ministry Web site.

“We call for relevant parties to be restrained and calm, adopt a cautious and responsible attitude to prevent the situation from worsening and break the stalemate as soon as possible so that process of the six-party talks can resume,” ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said.

Miss Rice said she would discuss with China’s leaders the best methods and procedures for enforcing the sanctions, adding that forcible searches on the high seas might not be the best way to handle the situation.

“I think that we don’t want to get out ahead of ourselves. … But we’ll want to use [sanctions] in a way that does not enhance the possibility for open conflict,” she said.

In an appearance on CNN’s “Late Edition,” Mr. Bolton said the U.S. “had not proposed” a blockade of North Korea.

“The overwhelming predominance of the inspections would take place in ports and at land crossings,” he said.

North Korea immediately denounced the resolution, and its U.N. ambassador walked out of the council chamber after accusing its members of a “gangsterlike” action that neglects the threat that Pyongyang says is posed by the U.S.

Japan and Australia have pledged immediate enforcement of the penalties, including sending their warships, and said they were considering harsher measures on their own.

South Korea, which has taken a conciliatory approach to Pyongyang and has provided its neighbor with aid, said it would abide by the resolution’s terms but did not say how. Its Unification Ministry, which handles dealings with the North, indicated that the sanctions would not affect a tourism venture and a joint industrial complex in the North, saying the “projects have nothing to do with the weapons of mass destruction program.”

In Seoul last night, Russian and South Korean diplomats agreed to try to restart the six-nation talks on North Korea’s nuclear program.

“The North Korean side several times returned to the point that the six-sided process should continue,” Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev said about his meetings Friday in Pyongyang.

But Chun Yung-woo, South Korea’s main nuclear negotiator, said, “We have to see how North Korea will respond to the sanctions. After then, we can confidently talk about the diplomatic process.”

The six-party talks involve the U.S., Russia, China, Japan, North Korea and South Korea.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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