November 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 October 2006
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ASIA

DPRK (North Korea)

Expected Council Action
The Council may receive a briefing from the Sanctions Committee on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on the steps taken by UN member states to implement resolution 1718. Resolution 1718 asks member states “to report to the Security Council” by 13 November on actions taken to implement the resolution.  (But there is a possibility that the Sanctions Committee will modify this deadline.) It is widely expected that despite the reference in the resolution to the “Council”, the Sanctions Committee will review the information provided and report to the Council.

Key Facts
The DPRK’s nuclear ambitions have been of concern to the international community for over a decade. In December 2002 the DPRK expelled the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors shortly after being accused by the US of running a secret uranium programme. In January 2003 the DPRK withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).  In February 2005 the DPRK announced that it had developed nuclear weapons. By the end of 2005 the six-party talks between China, South Korea, Russia, Japan, the US and the DPRK aimed at the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula had ceased to operate.

In 2006 the DPRK’s nuclear activities came before the Council. In early July the DPRK launched seven missiles, including a long-range Taepodong-2 prompting the Council to condemn the missile tests and affirm that proliferation of nuclear weapons as well as the means of delivery constitutes a threat to international peace and security.

On 3 October 2006 the DPRK announced the imminent test of a nuclear weapon.  On 6 October the Council in a presidential statement urged the DPRK to cancel its planned nuclear test and return to the six-party talks.  The statement warned the DPRK that a nuclear test would be a clear threat to international peace and security.

In spite of these warnings the DPRK abandoned any semblance of ambiguity and on 9 October conducted an underground test of a nuclear weapon.  Widespread international condemnation followed. A strong resolution was introduced in the Council in response to the DPRK’s action. After intense negotiations the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1718 on 14 October.  Acting under Chapter VII it imposed sanctions and established a Sanctions Committee on the DPRK.  The resolution requires the following by all member states:

  • ban sales to, or export from, the DPRK of military hardware;
  • ban sale or export of nuclear and missile related items (as set out in documents S/2006/814S/2006/815 and S/2006/816 unless amended by the Sanctions Committee within 14 days);
  • ban sales, transfers and supply of luxury goods;
  • freeze finances and bans travel of anyone involved in nuclear and  missile programmes;
  • ensure that no funds, assets or common resources are made available to or for the benefit of persons or entities conducting the DPRK’s nuclear programme; and
  • calls upon member states to cooperate in allowing inspection of cargo to and from the DPRK.

The Sanctions Committee on the DPRK held its first meeting on 23 October having chosen Slovakia as chair and Argentina and Qatar as vice-chairs.

The DPRK had threatened a second nuclear test but a Chinese envoy who met with President Kim Jong-il shortly after the adoption of resolution 1718 indicated that the DPRK was unlikely to conduct another test.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Japan, South Korea, Russia and China to discuss coordination of resolution 1718 implementation.

Key Issues
The key issue on the minds of many Council members is whether the sanctions can be effectively implemented.  The lists cover a broad range of items and will require stringent monitoring from member states. One of the measures with the potential for the sharpest impact (the prevention of funds being available to named persons and entities) still requires decisions by the Sanctions Committee on the names and this will be very complex to enforce.

There are a number of issues related to setting up the Sanctions Committee.

  •  Resolution 1718 does not create a panel of experts. Given the extensive lists it is going to be difficult for the Committee to effectively monitor compliance. 
  • The Committee will therefore need to rely on the Secretariat.
  • In order to start its work the Committee still has to adopt guidelines for operations, reporting and for listing and de-listing items.

Another issue is how resolution 1718 will affect the possibility of the DPRK coming back to the stalled six-party talks. Pyongyang boycotted the talks in September 2005 in response to the US financial restrictions against eight firms allegedly linked to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and acted against a bank in Macau believed to be laundering money. It may be that the financial restrictions in resolution 1718 will further exacerbate this.

Council Dynamics
All Council members agreed that a firm response was needed to the DPRK’s announcement that it had tested a nuclear bomb. The Council was also in agreement that the DPRK needed to return immediately to the six-party talks. The strong reactions from the US, Japan and the European members were expected. China was clearly disturbed at the fact that the DPRK had chosen a path that threatened the status quo on the peninsula.  In a marked change from its traditional position, China publicly called the nuclear test a “brazen act”. 

The adoption of resolution 1718 took days of intense negotiations. The US wanted direct sanctions and the possible use of force while China and Russia favoured a carrot and stick approach. China’s resistance to an open-ended reference to Chapter VII resulted in a resolution that refers explicitly to article 41 (non-forceful measures). The final resolution involved compromises on all sides, but the marked shift in the positions of China and Russia are perhaps the most significant in terms of the larger issue of non-proliferation.

In implementing resolution 1718 China, as the DPRK’s largest economic partner, will play a key role in ensuring the effectiveness of the sanctions. In the past China has made it clear that it did not want to see economic collapse and that is undoubtedly still true.  However, all the signs are that Beijing is now willing to put real pressure on Pyongyang’s leadership. 

Options
The Council does not expect the DPRK issue to be resolved quickly and anticipates a rocky road ahead.  Past history suggests Pyongyang will try various provocations.  Options available to the Council include:

  • a resolution setting up a panel of experts; and
  • progressively tightening the impact of financial measures in resolution 1718.

Underlying Problems
As it becomes increasingly isolated and the sanctions take their toll on the DPRK’s economy it is possible that it may decide that it has little to lose by testing another nuclear weapon.

The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the DPRK, Vitit Muntarbhorn, in a report to the General Assembly in October said that the DPRK’s nuclear test is likely to make donors reluctant to provide aid to the country and that this could exacerbate the precarious humanitarian situation.

UN Documents

 Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1718 (14 October 2006) expressed grave concern over DPRK’s nuclear test, imposed sanctions and set up a Sanctions Committee.
  • S/RES/1695 (15 July 2006) condemned DPRK’s launch of ballistic missiles.
  • S/RES/1540 (28 April 2004) affirmed that proliferation of nuclear weapons as well as the means of delivery constitutes a threat to international peace and security.
  • S/RES/825 (11 May 1993) called upon North Korea to reconsider withdrawing from the NPT and to honour its non-proliferation obligations under the NPT.
Presidential Statements
  • S/PRST/2006/41 (6 October 2006) was the statement expressing concern over DPRK’s declaration that it would conduct a nuclear test.
 Selected Letters
  • S/2006/481 (5 July 2006) was the letter from Japan requesting a meeting of the Security Council after DPRK launched a ballistic missile.
 Other
Historical Background
14 October 2006 The Security Council adopted resolution 1718 imposing sanctions on the DPRK and setting up a Sanctions Committee.
9 October 2006 The DPRK announced that it had conducted an underground nuclear test.
6 October 2006 The Security Council unanimously warned DPRK against testing.
3 October 2006 The DPRK announced that it would conduct a nuclear test.
15 July 2006 The Security Council adopted resolution 1695 condemning the DPRK’s launch of ballistic missiles.
4 and 5 July 2006 The DPRK launched seven missiles, including a long-range Taepodong-2.
9 November 2005 The fifth round of six-party talks collapsed after three days.
September 2005 The US imposed financial sanctions on a Macau bank and eight DPRK companies alleging counterfeiting and money laundering.
19 September 2005 The DPRK agreed to abandon all of its nuclear programmes in return for the possibility of a light-water reactor and a non-aggression pledge from the US.
26 July 2005  First phase of fourth round of six-party talks. After 13 days of talks and five draft agreements the talks are put on hold for three weeks.
10 February 2005 The DPRK announced that it possessed nuclear weapons.
23 June 2004

The third round of six-party talks where the US offered fuel aid in exchange for the DPRK freezing and dismantling it nuclear programmes.

25 February 2004

Second round of six-party talks

27 August 2003

First round of six-party talks between the US, the DPRK, China, Japan, Russia and the Republic of Korea

10 January 2003

Pyongyang withdraws from the NPT.

16 October 2002 The US publicly accused the DPRK of operating a secret uranium enrichment programme.
27 December 2002

The DPRK expelled IAEA nuclear inspectors.

11 June 1993

The DPRK suspended its withdrawal from the NPT one day before it would have taken effect, but announced that it would no longer allow IAEA inspections.

12 March 1993

The Central People’s Committee announced DPRK’s withdrawal from the NPT.

31 December 1991

North and South Korea agreed on a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.

31 August 1998

The DPRK test fired a Taepodong-1 missile over Japan.

12 September 1985 The DPRK signed the NPT.

Full forecast

 

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