Local Time

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

U.S., Japan differ with China on NKorean sanctions

By Evelyn Leopold and Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States and Japan on Wednesday met resistance from China in their push for tough U.N. sanctions against North Korea for its reported nuclear test, Security Council members said.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, speaking as major powers negotiated a range of sanctions, said he hoped to circulate a revised text soon and hoped it would be adopted on Friday but acknowledged "there were a number of disagreements."

Japan's U.N. Ambassador Kenzo Oshima, this month's council president, said China was willing to impose some punitive measures "but in our view we would have to ask them to make further efforts."

The position of Beijing, which has huge influence on the reclusive Communist state as its most important political and economic ally, was critical.

In the past it has opposed sanctions as a way to curb North Korea's nuclear program but China has agreed to some punitive measures if they are narrowly focussed on dangerous weapons.

One controversial provision in the U.S.-drafted resolution, was authorization for international inspections of cargo moving into and out of North Korea to detect weapons-related material.

Diplomats said China had rejected this.

Interdiction would help U.S. efforts to stop the transport of dangerous weapons. Washington fears North Korea, which has been a big supplier of missiles to some countries hostile to the United States, might make nuclear weapons available to other countries or groups.

In 2002, the United States and the Spanish navy had to release a seized vessel that was carrying 15 Scud missiles from North Korea to Yemen, because there was no provision under international law prohibiting it.

NONMILITARY SANCTIONS

China also wants the resolution to refer to a provision in Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, known as Article 41, which would authorize only nonmilitary sanctions. "I think Article 41 serves our purpose," Ambassador Wang Guangya said.

The U.S. draft is under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter which covers sanctions and even military force, providing the Security Council designates specific action.

But since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, nations fear that invoking Chapter 7 could automatically open the way for force, even if the council has not authorized it.

"We think the fact that North Korea has conducted a nuclear test does amount to a clear threat to international peace and security and warrants action under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter as well as a variety of strong measures," Bolton said.

The draft also calls for an arms embargo, a freeze on any transfer or development of weapons of mass destruction and a ban on luxury goods. And it would impose financial sanctions targeted at ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs.

In an effort to defuse the crisis, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged Washington to hold bilateral talks with North Korea, which it refuses to do.

"The U.S. and North Korea should talk," Annan said. "I've always argued that we should talk to parties whose behaviour we want to change, whose behaviour we want to influence."

In Washington, Bush again rejected bilateral talks.

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