U.N. slaps sanctions on North Korea, Kim visits frontline

UNITED NATIONS/SEOUL Fri Mar 8, 2013 7:58am IST

A visitor walks past North Korea's Russian made Scud-B ballistic missile (C in grey) and South Korea's U.S. made Hawk surface-to-air missiles at the Korean War Memorial Museum in Seoul February 15, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/Files

A visitor walks past North Korea's Russian made Scud-B ballistic missile (C in grey) and South Korea's U.S. made Hawk surface-to-air missiles at the Korean War Memorial Museum in Seoul February 15, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji/Files

Related Topics

UNITED NATIONS/SEOUL (Reuters) - The United Nations imposed new sanctions on North Korea aimed at curtailing its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and China, the isolated regime's only major ally, said it wanted the measures fully implemented.

The sanctions were approved just hours after North Korea threatened the United States with a pre-emptive nuclear strike, a largely empty warning since experts believe Pyongyang does not have the capability to hit the U.S. mainland.

With tensions high on the Korean peninsula, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited military units on the frontline of any potential clash with South Korea and the United States, which has 26,000 troops stationed in the South.

The new U.N. Security Council measures announced on Thursday tighten financial restrictions on North Korea and crack down on its attempts to ship and receive banned cargo.

They were agreed after three weeks of negotiations between the United States and China, which has a history of resisting tough penalties against its impoverished neighbour.

"When North Korea tries to move money to pay for its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, countries must now block those transfers even if the money is being carried in suitcases full of bulk cash," said the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.

China's U.N. ambassador, Li Baodong, said Beijing wanted "full implementation" of the new resolution.

The success of the new measures, council diplomats said, would depend to a large extent on the willingness of China to enforce them more strictly than it has in the past.

If carried out to the letter that would see China inspecting shipments from major ports such as Dalian, which could be a big blow to Kim, who appears to have risked distancing himself from his sole major ally and trading partner.

In a statement released late on Thursday, China's Foreign Ministry called the sanctions a "necessary and moderate response" to North Korea's February 12 nuclear test.

The U.N. resolution also specifies some luxury items North Korea's elite is not allowed to import but its main aims are to stop financial institutions dealing with North Korea and to staunch the flow of cash flowing into the country into what defectors have dubbed the "royal court" fund, used to finance the Kim family's opulent lifestyle and its nuclear ambitions.

"These sanctions will bite and bite hard," said Rice.

The sanctions were designed to make the punitive measures more like those used against Iran, which Western officials say have been surprisingly successful.

George Lopez, a professor at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and a former member of the U.N. panel that monitors North Korea sanctions compliance, said the new measures should have a real impact on North Korea's movement of money and constrain access to equipment for its nuclear and missile programmes.

"Now, we may yet see another launch or a bomb test, but over the medium term this resolution will degrade DPRK capabilities to grow its programme," Lopez said, using the acronym for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

THREATS AND WAR GAMES

Washington said North Korea's nuclear threats would only lead to Pyongyang's further international isolation and declared the United States was "fully capable" of defending itself.

President Barack Obama's administration also said it had reassured South Korea and Japan "at the highest levels" of its commitment to deterrence, through the U.S. nuclear umbrella and missile defense, in the face of the new threats.

North Korea has accused the United States of using military drills in South Korea as a launch pad for a nuclear war and has again scrapped the armistice with Washington that ended hostilities in the 1950-53 Korean War.

Its soaring anti-American rhetoric is seen by experts as a ploy to be taken as a serious threat and to force Washington back to the negotiating table.

"This might have been a workable strategy in the past, but there will be little appetite to negotiate until North Korea shows it is committed to real change," said Matt Stumpf, Washington director of the Asia Society.

A more likely option for Pyongyang than a full-scale conflict is to stage a series of clashes along a disputed frontier with the South, a sea border known as the Northern Limit Line, which has been the scene of previous clashes.

In 2010, the North was widely believed to have sunk a South Korean naval vessel killing 46 sailors, something Pyongyang has denied. In the same year it shelled a South Korean island in the disputed area, killing civilians.

Kim Jong-un visited two military units on islands near the line on Thursday, according to state news agency KCNA, on what it termed "the biggest hotspot" in the waters of the Korean peninsula and where he urged the units to "make the first gunfire" in response to any attack on its territory.

North Korea was conducting a series of military drills and getting ready for state-wide war practice of an unusual scale, South Korea's defense ministry said earlier. (Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols at the United Nations, Paul Eckert and Anna Yukhananov in Washington and David Chance in Seoul; Editing by Christopher Wilson and Dean Yates)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Shares Hit Record

Sensex, Nifty rise to second consecutive record high

Sensex surges 500 points on BOJ easing, L&T gains

The BSE Sensex and Nifty surged to record highs for a second consecutive session on Friday after Bank of Japan's surprise expansion of its massive stimulus programme raised hopes for additional foreign inflows, boosting blue-chips such as Larsen & Toubro.  Full Article 

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Ban on E-Cigs?

Ban on E-Cigs?

Govt considers ban on e-cigarettes, sale of single smokes.  Full Article 

Commodities

Commodities

Silver futures in India hit four-year low on global cues.  Full Article 

BOJ Policy

BOJ Policy

BOJ shocks markets with surprise easing as inflation slows.  Full Article 

Cost Cutting

Cost Cutting

PM Narendra Modi boots officials out of the first class cabin  Full Article 

Leisure Riding

Leisure Riding

Harley-Davidson woos affluent young Indians with bike culture  Full Article 

Shadow Banking

Shadow Banking

China's shadow banking sector growing rapidly, third largest in world - FSB.  Full Article 

Moody's on India

Moody's on India

Moody's welcomes India's policy steps, but wants to see more.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage