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Japan Resolution Would Condemn N. Korea

July 5, 2006

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Japan said Wednesday it is considering sanctions against North Korea in a U.N. resolution that would condemn the reclusive communist nation’s missile tests and call for a return to six-party talks on its nuclear program.

But China and Russia said they favor a weaker council statement without any threat of sanctions, positions that will make it very difficult for Japan and its key allies, the United States and Britain, to get tough measures.

Ambassadors from the 15 nations on the Security Council held an emergency meeting on a response to North Korea, which defied international appeals and conducted a series of missile launches. No draft resolution was introduced, but it was expected to be circulated later in the day when an initial discussion of council experts was scheduled.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said the council must send a ``strong and unanimous signal″ that North Korea’s missile test-launch was unacceptable.

After the meeting, he said that ``no member defended what the North Koreans have done.″

``I think there is support for sending a clear signal to Pyongyang,″ Bolton said, although he wouldn’t comment on possible sanctions.

Council diplomats said Japan and the United States were still debating whether the resolution should include a demand that all countries ban the transfer of funds, material and technology that could be used in North Korea’s missile program.

``It’s too early to say what the outcome will be except to say there is an agreement in the council to act swiftly and resolutely,″ said France’s U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, the current council president.

Japan’s deputy U.N. ambassador Shinichi Kitaoka said his country _ already in range of North Korean missiles _ said before the meeting that ``sanctions is probably included in our first proposal.″

Afterward, Japanese Ambassador Kenzo Oshima said North Korea’s ``possible combination of nuclear weapons with missile development and testing″ is unacceptable and requires ``quick, strong action″ by the Security Council.

Flanked by the U.S. and British ambassadors, he said possible sanctions against North Korea ``may be discussed, but that, of course, is up to the council.″

``Clearly, I think whatever response will have to say clear and strong condemnation of the missile launches, and it should also mention very deep concerns of the international community over the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,″ Oshima said.

Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya called the launches regrettable but indicated that Beijing, the North’s closest ally and a veto-wielding council member, favored a weaker council statement.

So did Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who said that while ``a strong and clear message is needed to North Korea,″ the goal should be a resumption of six-party talks, which have been suspended since September, and a diplomatic solution.

``I frankly do not expect anybody would be proposing any sanctions,″ he said.

The resolution is expected to call for action under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which is militarily enforceable, several U.N. diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the draft has not yet been circulated.

British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said he expects a quick, united and robust response by the council.

``It’s a provocative action,″ he said. ``We condemn it. We very much hope that North Korea will come back to a moratorium, back to the six-power talks, and we will be supporting a resolution put down by Japan and the United States.″

China’s Wang expressed concern at the missile tests, but left far more ambiguity about how much council action would be acceptable to China.

``Certainly I think this is not the first time the Security Council takes action on this particular issue, because we had a precedent in 1998. So if all council members feel that some appropriate action is needed by the council, then we will see,″ he said.

In September 1998, following North Korea’s launch of a satellite that the State Department initially believed was a missile test, the council approved only a press statement _ which does not even become part of its official record.

It urged Pyongyang not to launch another satellite or other object without warning, and said neighboring countries should refrain from retaliatory action.

Wang stressed the importance of constructive actions to maintain peace.

The seven missiles fired by North Korea all apparently fell harmlessly into the Sea of Japan, but the tests provoked international condemnation and calls in Japan for economic sanctions.

North Korea remained defiant, with one official arguing it had the right to such launches.

North Korea’s U.N. Ambassador Pak Gil Yon refused to talk to reporters Wednesday when he arrived at his country’s U.N. mission, shielding himself with a large black umbrella against the rain and the media barrage.

Update hourly