- The Washington Times - Monday, April 13, 2009

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - All 15 Security Council nations have agreed to a statement that would condemn North Korea’s rocket launch and toughen U.N. sanctions against the reclusive communist nation, a spokesman for the council president said Monday.

The agreement paves the way for the formal adoption of the statement at a council meeting Monday afternoon.

The five permanent veto-wielding members _ the U.S., China, Russia, Britain and France _ and Japan reached agreement on the text Saturday and then distributed it to the nine other council members who had to consult their capitals.

No objections were received by the noon EDT deadline, said Marco Morales, spokesman for Mexico’s U.N. Ambassador Claude Heller, the current council president.

The draft statement “condemns” North Korea’s April 5 “launch” _ without specifying whether it was a missile or a satellite. It makes clear that it was a violation of a Security Council resolution adopted after the North conducted a nuclear test in 2006 which bans any missile tests by the country.

“We want to do everything we can in getting a message to the North Koreans that this type of activity cannot happen again, mustn’t happen again,” U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said in Washington. “The international community is very focused on this.”

North Korea carried out the launch in defiance of intense international pressure, claiming it had put a satellite in orbit which is allowed under a U.N. space treaty. The United States, Japan and South Korea claim North Korea was really testing long-range missile technology, which Pyongyang is banned from doing.

The draft statement demands that North Korea not conduct further launches. And it reiterates that North Korea must fully implement the 2006 resolution, which also ordered Pyongyang to suspend all ballistic missile activities and “abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.”

The proposed statement calls for expanding sanctions under the 2006 resolution, which ordered a financial freeze on assets belonging to companies or organizations engaged in supporting North Korean programs related to nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles and other weapons of mass destruction _ and banned specific goods used in those programs.

It asks the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against North Korea to report to the council by April 24 on the companies, items, and technologies to be added to the list. If the committee fails to act, it says the Security Council itself will then come up with a list by April 30.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported Monday, citing an unnamed South Korean official, that about 10 North Korean companies will likely be blacklisted under expanded sanctions. Foreign Ministry officials were not available Monday evening to confirm the report.

The breakthrough in the council’s response to the rocket launch came after Japan on Saturday backed down from a demand that the council adopt a resolution, which is the strongest response that the U.N.’s most powerful body can give. China and Russia, the North Koreans’ strongest allies, refused to go along with a new resolution, which the United States was also seeking.

But while Japan kept insisting on a resolution, the U.S. indicated it would also accept a strong presidential statement from the council, council diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the negotiations were held behind closed doors.

While U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said a presidential statement would be legally binding, other diplomats and U.N. officials disagree.

North Korea has warned that any move to censure it at the U.N. could prompt its withdrawal from six-party talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear program. The talks involve China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the U.S.

In the draft statement, the council expresses support for the six-party talks and “calls for their early resumption.” It also expresses the council’s desire “for a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the situation.”


Associated Press writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

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