WASHINGTON – One day after passage of a U.N. Security Council resolution punishing North Korea for its apparent test of a nuclear weapon, senior U.S. diplomats said Sunday that China must help enforce it and use economic leverage to compel Pyongyang to return to disarmament talks.
The resolution, passed unanimously, calls on states to prevent North Korea from selling or buying certain banned weapons and technology. But China said Saturday that Beijing would not inspect cargo entering or leaving North Korea, for fear of raising tensions in the region.
China’s unwillingness to act against its longtime ally raises the stakes for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s diplomatic mission to Northeast Asia later this week. Ever since the current nuclear crisis with North Korea began in 2002, the Bush administration has relied heavily on China to use its influence with North Korea’s leaders. But Beijing’s caution has frequently disappointed U.S. officials.
U.N. ambassador John Bolton said on ABC’s “This Week” that China had a “heavy responsibility” now that Pyongyang has detonated a nuclear device. “This test by the North Koreans had to have been humiliating to China,” he added.
Rice, who along with Bolton made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation”: “You’re going to find China carrying out its responsibilities, undoubtedly carrying it out in a way that it believes will not enhance conflict. None of us want to enhance conflict with these measures. We just want to keep North Korea from trading in dangerous materials.”
U.S. officials said Sunday that they were pleased with the terms of Resolution 1718, which bans North Korean trade in materials linked to most weapons and luxury goods. It will create a U.N. committee to monitor the sanctions’ effectiveness and to draw up a list of individuals and institutions linked to North Korea’s weapons programs.
China, which shares an 880-mile border with North Korea, has generally argued that pressure on its neighbor would be counterproductive.
It frequently lured North Korea back to six-nation negotiations on Pyongyang’s nuclear programs with tens of millions of dollars in payments – in one case, China even provided North Korea with a glass factory.
Rice stressed on “Fox News Sunday” that the U.N. resolution passed very quickly, even though it required China to vote against its communist neighbor.
“This is the toughest action that China has ever signed onto vis-a-vis North Korea,” she said. “It sends a very strong signal to North Korea that it is now completely isolated. You cannot underestimate how big a blow it is.”