Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday that North Korea is jeopardizing its own goals in the Chinese-sponsored six-party nuclear negotiations by defying the world community with its long-range missile test. Clinton said the United States is seeking a strong condemnation of Pyongyang in the U.N. Security Council.
Consultations thus far in the Security Council on a response to the North Korean missile test have been inconclusive. But Clinton is brushing aside suggestions that U.S. diplomacy has failed and says the Obama administration is pushing for strong language condemning Sunday's test, which she says was a clear violation of a 2006 Security Council resolution.
The Secretary said she and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, are actively engaged in consultations with Security Council member countries and nations involved in the six-party nuclear talks on a proper response to the missile test, which she termed "a provocative act that has grave implications."
At a press appearance with Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store, Clinton said the lack of an early response from the Security Council is not surprising. "We know that working out the exact language is not easily done overnight. But we remain convinced that coming out with a strong position in the United Nations is the first and important step that we intend to take. North Korea has to know that any efforts to obtain the objectives it set forth as desiring in the six-party talks are put at jeopardy," she said.
North Korea agreed in principle in 2005 to scrap its nuclear program in return for aid and diplomatic benefits from the other participants in the six-party process, eventually including normal diplomatic relations with the United States and guarantees for its security.
The talks, involving Russia, Japan and South Korea along with North Korea, the United States and host China, have been stalled for several months over Pyongyang's refusal to accept a verification program for the declaration of its nuclear program it made last year.
Russia and China are understood to be resisting the idea of a new Security Council sanctions resolution in response to the missile test.
Earlier Monday, a senior State Department official signaled U.S. flexibility on the issue, saying the form of the Security Council response, be it a resolution or joint policy statement, is less important than the strength of the language condemning Pyongyang for its defiance of council resolution 1718.
That measure, approved after North Korea's October 2006 nuclear test, demanded that Pyongyang not conduct any further nuclear detonations or missile launches, and imposed sanctions barring sales to that country of nuclear and missile technology, and major weapons systems.
Clinton said diplomacy on North Korea was continuing "non-stop," despite the absence of a formal Security Council meeting on Monday. But Clinton declined to discuss details of the contacts, saying that she did not want to prejudice the outcome.