By Margaret Besheer
25 May 2009
The U.N. Security Council has condemned North Korea's carrying out of a nuclear test as a "clear violation" of existing council resolutions, and says it will begin work immediately on a new resolution.
The emergency meeting of the 15-member council lasted less than an hour. Afterwards, diplomats emerged with a united voice saying they opposed and condemned Pyongyang's latest defiance of international law.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice would not say if the resolution the council will begin drafting would carry new sanctions, but she said it should be strong, with appropriately strong contents.
U.S. United Nations Ambassador, Susan Rice
"The U.S. thinks this is a grave violation of international law and a threat to regional and international peace and security," said Susan Rice. "And therefore, the United States will seek a strong resolution with strong measures."
France's deputy ambassador, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, said his country believes new sanctions are necessary.
"The French national position is that this resolution should include new sanctions, in addition to those already adopted by the Security Council, because this behavior must have a cost and a price to pay," said Jean-Pierre Lacroix.
Japan, which has been at the forefront of urging strong council action on North Korea and called for Monday's emergency meeting, said Pyongyang's nuclear test was a serious threat to regional and international peace and security, but also to the authority and prestige of the Security Council.
Russia and China have traditionally been North Korea's strongest allies on the council. But Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who chairs the council this month, criticized Pyongyang's actions as contrary to U.N. resolutions, the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
"We are one of the founding fathers, Russia is, of those [the NPT and CTBT] documents," said Vitaly Churkin. "So we think they are extremely important in current international relations. So anything which would undermine the regimes of those two treaties is very serious and needs to have a strong response to it."
The Chinese government issued a statement saying it resolutely opposes the test.
Early Monday, North Korea confirmed it had conducted an underground nuclear test. In 2006, it performed a similar test that resulted in the adoption of a U.N. Security Council resolution sanctioning it.
In April, North Korea launched a test rocket that the United States, Japan and others said was cover for a ballistic missile test. The Security Council condemned that as well, tightening existing sanctions, but not adopting a new resolution.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is a former South Korean foreign minister, also condemned North Korea's action. In a statement, the U.N. chief "deeply deplored" the underground nuclear test as a "clear and grave violation" of Security Council resolutions and urged Pyongyang to "refrain from taking further actions that would increase tensions in the region."