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US Wants Action Against North Korea, Circulates Draft to UN

By Warren Hoge


The United States circulated a draft resolution on North Korea to the Security Council Thursday and pressed for a vote by Friday, but both China and Russia immediately signaled their opposition to the measure and said they needed more time.

John R. Bolton, the U.S. ambassador, said the United States was still open to suggestions for changes but was determined to produce a decision by the end of the week.

“We have believed from the time we first learned of the North Korean explosion that we needed a swift and strong response,” he said.

The revised draft is a softer version of the original U.S. proposal circulated Monday, aimed at gaining favor with Beijing and Moscow.

But it still calls for international inspections of cargo going into and out of North Korea to block transport of weapons-related material and cites the need for drafting the resolution under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, which makes sanctions mandatory and posits the use of military force.

China and Russia have traditionally resisted the Chapter VII formulation and are sensitive to the notion of inspections being conducted off coasts and borders in their regions.

Vitaly I. Churkin, the Russian ambassador, said he had asked Bolton Thursday morning not to call for a vote, “but what happened happened.”

He said that a high-level Chinese delegation was headed to Moscow to consult on North Korea and “we clearly have not had an in-depth discussion of this issue.”

In a reference to the danger he thought the American position posed, he said, “As we know in this problem and in this part of the world, some strong statements made by others in the Security Council have hurt the entire thing and have aggravated matters so we do not want to repeat this on the level of the Security Council.”

Wang Guangya, the ambassador of China, said, “Of course, some people are talking about a possible vote tomorrow. I’m not sure, but I think we have to see the final text, because there are many common grounds that members agree but there are some disagreements.”

Wang said that Beijing thought the claimed North Korean test of a nuclear device was an “irresponsible action” that had to be “firmly opposed and condemned.”

But he added, “More important, it should be helpful for leading to a solution of this issue by peaceful means. It should also create conditions for the parties to once again engage in negotiations to settle this issue.”

Richard A. Grenell, Bolton’s spokesman, said that the Russians and Chinese were already blocking Security Council action on Zimbabwe, Sudan, Iran and Myanmar. “It’s all right to keep talking if you are really going to get action, but not if it’s just delay and delay and delay,” he said.

Asked if the United States would settle for a less than unanimous vote, Bolton said, “We would always like the highest number of votes in the Security Council and we have not given up on our efforts to achieve that, but we have also said that it’s important that we send a very clear signal.”