Accessibility links

Breaking News

Asian Nations Hail UN Resolution on N. Korea, Differ on Enforcement

Japan and South Korea joined the international community in welcoming the unanimous passage of a U.N. resolution punishing North Korea for its apparent nuclear test. However, the two nations are already signaling they will take divergent approaches to enforcing it.

Just hours after the resolution won the support of all 15 U.N. Security Council member states, Japan and South Korea outlined what they are, and are not, likely to do to enforce it.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe explicitly praised the resolution for its firmness.

Mr. Abe says the resolution sends a "clear message" to the North that it is is not to possess nuclear weapons under any circumstances. He says Japan is contemplating what steps of its own to take in accordance with the measure.

Saturday's resolution demands that North Korea give up all nuclear and ballistic missile testing, and abandon all nuclear weapons and weapons programs. It bans North Korea from importing or exporting major military hardware, and calls on U.N. members to search vessels going to or from the North for banned cargo. It also aims to pinch leader Kim Jong Il's elite by banning sales of luxury goods to Pyongyang.

Japan unilaterally banned trade and shipping traffic with North Korea even before the resolution passed. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso said Sunday that Tokyo should provide logistical support to U.S. vessels in inspecting North Korean cargo.

Here in Seoul, the authorities gave a more tempered reaction to the resolution's passage. South Korean authorities praised the resolution's language, which explicitly rules out the use of military force against the North. The South Korean Foreign Ministry issued a statement promising to implement the measure.

However, Kim Geun-tae, chairman of South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun's Uri party, says South Korea should not participate directly in interdicting North Korean shipping - saying such action could spark armed conflict with the North.

China, too, has indicated that it would not participate in the inspection of North Korean shipping. The Chinese supported the U.N. resolution only after demanding less severe restrictions than originally proposed by the United States.

Kim Geun-tae, the Uri party chairman, also says South Korea will continue to participate in two major joint ventures with the North, a tourist resort and an industrial park, both of which are located in North Korea. He argued that these projects have nothing to do with Pyongyang's weapons programs.

Critics of President Roh's economic cooperation with the North argue that these programs help fund Pyongyang's weapons programs, and should be closed down.

North Korea remained officially silent on Sunday about the resolution. However, Pyongyang's ambassador to the United Nations on Saturday called the resolution a "gangster-like" act by the Security Council, and said his country would take "physical measures" to counter the new sanctions.