NEW YORK (Kyodo) Although Japan is still pushing for a U.N. Security Council resolution in response to North Korea’s suspected missile test last weekend, Beijing, Pyongyang’s closest ally, will probably foreclose on the chance of any binding decision, diplomatic sources said Tuesday.
Japan, whose territory the rocket flew over, has been pressing intensely for a resolution since the UNSC convened Sunday. But China has only proposed issuing a nonbinding statement, which would only be read out to the press by the Security Council president. A resolution can only be vetoed by Britain, China, France, the United States or Russia.
China has indicated that pushing North Korea too far will negatively impact the six-party talks aimed at ending the North’s nuclear weapons program, the sources said.
North Korea has said it will exit the now-stalled multilateral talks if any move is made to issue new U.N. sanctions.
As a compromise between the two countries, Britain, France and the United States are considering proposing a presidential statement, which is also nonbinding and requires the unanimous agreement of the 15 council members, the sources said. It is read inside the chamber.
A day earlier, the U.S., along with Japan, one of the 10 nonpermanent members, circulated a draft resolution on North Korea that was believed to be seeking stricter enforcement of existing sanctions under Resolution 1718. The resolution, adopted in October 2006 after North Korea’s nuclear test, bans Pyongyang from all activities related to its ballistic missile program.
But Washington’s insistence on obtaining a resolution has apparently waned because the division between Japan and China has deepened. Tuesday’s Security Council meeting was canceled at China’s request, the sources said.
The sources said the U.S. has refrained from taking a strong stance toward Beijing at the UNSC, given that China is the largest holder of U.S. Treasury debt. Washington, which is relying heavily on the funds it receives from China’s U.S. debt purchases to finance its huge economic package, fears Beijing might change its economic policy if agitated, the sources said.
Washington’s apparent backpedaling may leave Japan isolated in seeking a resolution.
One diplomatic source said the only way to break the Tokyo-Beijing deadlock will be to keep holding bilateral talks so their leaders can come up with a solution on the sidelines of the Saturday summit for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus Japan, China and South Korea.
Of the five permanent members, it is the position of Britain, France and the United States that North Korea’s launch was a cover for testing a long-range ballistic missile and a clear-cut violation of Resolution 1718. China and Russia, however, stopped short of confirming a violation.
The North, however, has claimed its actions were simply to put a satellite into space, a right all countries share.
“It’s not a violation of a resolution,” Pak Tok Hun, North Korea’s deputy permanent representative at the United Nations, told reporters Tuesday. “We said it’s not (a) missile. This is the peaceful purpose of the satellite launch.”
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