A draft UN Security Council statement condemning Pyongyang's rocket launch – but avoiding a fresh resolution – has "to a considerable degree" eased threats to regional peace and the future of the Six-Party Talks, analysts said yesterday.
The five permanent council members and Japan agreed on Saturday to a presidential statement with tough wording as a compromise between inaction and Tokyo's demand for a legally-binding fresh resolution. The deal ended a week-long deadlock on the council's response to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s launch on April 5.
"If the UN Security Council had avoided a response to Pyongyang's rocket launch, Japan might have taken action on its own, which could have been more damaging," said Jin Canrong, an international relations expert with Renmin University of China.
For such a response, China's stand has been that it should not hamper future Six-Party Talks, Jin said, adding that "Beijing should be pleased with the statement".
The talks, aimed at denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, involve China, the DPRK, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Japan, Russia and the United States.
Japan had been pushing for a council resolution that would declare the DPRK in violation of resolution 1718 of October 2006 which calls for financial and arms sanctions against Pyongyang for its nuclear test that year. It also forbids Pyongyang from launching ballistic missiles.
But China and Russia were opposed to a new resolution and suggested instead that the council adopt a compromise presidential statement.
"The Security Council condemns the 5 April 2009 launch by the DPRK, which is in contravention of Security Council resolution 1718," the draft statement said.
Although the statement does not explicitly declare Pyongyang in violation of 1718, diplomats said the language in the draft that it contravened the resolution has the same legal meaning.
Instead of launching new sanctions, the draft calls for the UN Sanctions Committee to designate "entities and goods" to face sanctions.
The impact of any UN-backed sanctions is bound to be limited because Pyongyang is already more or less isolated from the rest of the world, Yoo Ho-yeol, an expert on the DPRK at Seoul's Korea University, told Reuters.
The draft also calls for Pyongyang to return to stalled Six-Party Talks aimed at ending its nuclear program and demands that it refrain from any further launches.
With the backing of the five permanent members and Japan, the statement's adoption by the full council at a meeting called for this afternoon (New York time) is virtually assured.
China's UN envoy Zhang Yesui said on Saturday the draft was "cautious and proportionate", which Beijing had sought.
US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said the draft statement is "very strong and sends a clear message to the DPRK that their violation of international law will not be treated with impunity and, indeed, will have consequences".
Japanese Ambassador Yukio Takasu told reporters that his country's "strong preference was a resolution, but as I say, equally important is unity. And I think unity of the council would have been lost if we insisted on that. That's why we have accepted this very strong presidential statement".
"Now we're only unsure of response from two sides – Japan's conservative groups, and Pyongyang," Jin Canrong said.
Pyongyang had warned of "strong steps" if the council took any action against it.
The DPRK said it successfully launched a satellite into space on April 5 but some insist it was a disguised long-range missile test and no satellite was launched.
(Reuters via ChinaDaily April 13, 2009)