New sanctions against N. Korea approved

The UN Security Council has approved a new set of sanctions against Pyongyang on Friday. Earlier, US officials were saying North Korea was preparing for another nuclear test.

The new resolution bans North Korea from exporting all weapons, and importing any weapons except small firearms.

The document also demands that North Korea give up its nuclear program and comply with the non-proliferation treaty.

Mixed reactions

Just hours after the Security Council's decision, North Korea announced it will renew its uranium enrichment programme and “weaponize” all the plutonium in its possession.

They added that any attempts by the US and its allies to isolate the country will result in military retaliation.

However, the sanctions calls for a very different reaction – at least that is the position which their authors are taking:

“The message of this resolution is clear: North Korea's behavior is unacceptable to the international community and the international community is determined to respond. North Korea should return without conditions to a peaceful dialogue,” Rosemary DiCarlo, US Alternate Representative to the UN, stated.

Russia's Foreign Ministry has already called it balanced and adequate: the eventual message is not to punish North Korea but bring it back to negotiations, and Russia has always insisted that this was a key to solving the issue.

“Additional sanctions against North Korea are tightly linked with attempts to stop the country's activity in creating nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. At the same time they do not restrict people's rights to humanitarian aid and economic support. The important part of the resolution is what Russia has always insisted on – that no sanctions can be applied through the use of military force,” Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, has said.

Russia insisted throughout the talks on the document’s contents that the resolution should not entail the possibility of the use of force. And this is something the United States were said to have been pushing for behind closed doors.

It is also important that the new resolution creates a stimulus for North Korea through the possibility of putting the sanctions on hold if the PDRK begins to co-operate.

The resolution marks a compromise between the US, which was demanding full economic isolation, and Russia, which called for a more balanced document.

This is just two weeks after the country carried out its second underground nuclear test, and test-launched several missiles.

Ship searches

United Nations has also authorized ship searchers in its new North Korean sanctions.

Earlier, North Korea threatened military action against US and South Korean warships in the waters near the disputed Korean maritime border, raising the specter of a naval clash just days after the regime's underground nuclear test.

Pyongyang, reacting angrily to Seoul’s decision to join an international program to intercept ships suspected of aiding nuclear proliferation, called the move tantamount to a declaration of war.

Past sanctions

The country is already under a number of sanctions that were approved back in 2006 after its first nuclear test. However, these past sanctions have done little to deter North Korea from its atomic ambitions.

Although Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, had previously stated that Russia is fully against any use of force in resolving the North Korean situation, he noted that it was not included in the draft resolution.

According to Barack Obama’s representatives, the US position on the North Korean question has not changed with the coming of the new administration. Obama’s envoy to North Korea said:

“The US is determined to make sure the North faces serious consequences for its growing missile and nuclear threat.”

The same envoy also voiced that the Obama administration is considering freezing all financial dealings and bank accounts that North Korea may have outside its territory. This is something which echoes the Bush administration’s policies on the subject.