- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that she will seek additional measures against North Korea during a trip to Asia beginning today, and that the United States had never been in a “stronger position” to counter Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

Speaking two days after the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution imposing a series of sanctions against the North, Miss Rice noted China’s first reported inspections of cargo destined for its neighbor.

“We and our partners must expand defensive measures to counter North Korea’s full array of illicit and proliferation activities,” she told reporters at the State Department.

She said she would “reaffirm” Washington’s commitments to its allies Japan and South Korea this week, but she also called for those countries and China to “share the burdens, as well as the benefits,” of maintaining security in Northeast Asia.

“As North Korea scorns the international community, we will collectively isolate North Korea from the benefits of participation in that community,” she said.

The secretary also urged Iran to take note of Pyongyang’s punishment, including strict sanctions on the import and export of materials and equipment that can be used to produce weapons of mass destruction.

“The Iranian government is watching, and it can now see that the international community will respond to threats of nuclear proliferation,” she said. “So the Iranian government should consider the course that it is on, which could lead simply to further isolation.”

Resolution 1718, passed in response to Pyongyang’s nuclear test last week, bans trade with North Korea in dangerous weapons, as well as heavy conventional weapons and luxury goods, and requires countries to freeze funds connected with its illicit arms programs.

Even though China voted for the resolution, as did the other 14 Security Council members, Beijing’s ambassador to the United Nations, Wang Guangya, ruled out interdiction, apparently referring to stopping cargo on the high seas.

“Inspections yes, but inspections are different from interception and interdiction,” he told reporters in New York, adding that the resolution does not make it mandatory for all nations to inspect cargo going to and from North Korea.

Miss Rice sought to dispel doubts that China would live up to the resolution’s requirements, but her remarks also were meant to remind Beijing what is expected of it.

“I’m not concerned that the Chinese are going to turn their backs on their obligations,” she said. “I don’t think they would have voted for a resolution that they did not intend to carry through on.”

R. Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, said China was taking action to check goods crossing into North Korea in the border city of Dandong.

“The Chinese now are beginning to stop trucks at the 800-mile border and inspect all of them,” Mr. Burns said on CNN. He also said on CBS’ “Early Show” that there would be “enormous pressure on China to live up to their responsibility” under the resolution.

Early today, the Bank of China, one of China’s “big four” state-owned commercial banks, announced that it had halted remittances of funds to North Korea from at least some of its branches since yesterday.

Miss Rice is scheduled to visit Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing and Moscow.

“My goal on this trip is, certainly, to reiterate that we are prepared to return to the talks. But North Korea also needs to understand that they will pay a price,” she said.

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