UNITED NATIONS — France, Britain and Japan are hoping for a speedy vote on a U.N. resolution that would impose new sanctions against North Korea following its tests of an intercontinental ballistic missile — but Russia says the text still needs to be discussed and there’s no agreement yet.
The United States gave China, North Korea’s neighbor and ally, a proposed resolution several weeks ago. Ambassadors from both countries said on July 25 that they were making progress, and several diplomats said they are close to agreement on a draft resolution, including a new sector of sanctions and tightening existing measures.
France’s U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters Thursday his government would like to see a resolution “with robust and additional sanctions adopted in the very coming days.” Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said he hopes it will be “very soon.” And Japan’s U.N. Ambassador Koro Bessho said Tokyo wants action as quickly as possible, “days rather than weeks.”
But Russia’s new U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said there has been no discussion yet among the five permanent members of the Security Council — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — so “there was no agreement yet.”
Nebenzia said he met privately Thursday morning with China’s Liu and they discussed the possibility of a resolution. But he said even if there’s an agreement between the U.S. and China, it doesn’t mean there’s agreement among the five veto-wielding permanent members or with the 10 elected members of the Security Council who haven’t seen the draft resolution yet.
France’s Delattre said “quick action” and “strong additional sanctions” are needed in response to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, including two recent successful ICBM tests.
“This is not a regional threat any more. It is a global threat and we take it very seriously,” he said.
“Only, in our view, maximum diplomatic pressure is likely to have an impact on DPRK behavior before it’s too late,” Delattre said, using the initials of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Britain’s Rycroft said the DPRK’s capability to launch an ICBM that could in theory hit the United Kingdom and most of Europe and the United States poses “a huge threat to international peace and security.”
“The Security Council must respond rapidly and substantively with a new sanctions resolution,” he said, “and I hope that that will come to pass in the near future.”
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley has refused to say what sanctions were being discussed with China.
But in early July she told the Security Council that if it is united, the international community can cut off major sources of hard currency to North Korea, restrict oil to its military and weapons programs, increase air and maritime restrictions, and hold senior officials accountable.
She said Sunday that a resolution that doesn’t “significantly increase” pressure on Pyongyang “is worse than nothing, because it sends the message to the North Korean dictator that the international community is unwilling to seriously challenge him.”