Saturday, June 20, 2009

NYT editorial on North Korea's brinkmanship

It's a few days old but worth a read, if for no other reason than anything the New York Times or the Washington Post says about North Korea policy probably has the most influence over the public perception — and perhaps policymakers as well.
Whether new sanctions adopted unanimously by the United Nations Security Council can deter even more dangerous actions is anyone’s guess. We know there is no chance if they are not implemented. The resolution leaves a lot of room for governments to avoid enforcement should they choose.

The resolution bars North Korea from selling weapons (ballistic missiles and parts are exports) or buying them. It authorizes states — but does not require them — to inspect cargo vessels and airplanes suspected of carrying North Korean weapons or nuclear technology. The North has sold missiles to Iran and other unsavory customers and a nuclear reactor to Syria.

It also calls on — but does not require — states and financial institutions to stop providing banking services, loans and credits that could support its nuclear or missile programs. That could have the biggest impact, if countries and banks heed the call.

It is encouraging that China, North Korea’s top supplier of food and fuel, and Russia were heavily involved in drafting the resolution. China’s ambassador endorsed what he called the international community’s “firm opposition” to the North’s nuclear ambitions.

But talk is cheap. China and Russia exposed their continued ambivalence by blocking efforts to make certain elements of the new sanctions mandatory. China also insisted on carving out an exception so that it could continue selling small arms to the North.
I'm glad China's role as North Korea's willing benefactor is getting highlighted. Anyway, as the Marmot always used to say, read the rest on your own. (And my apologies for not going through this in detail; I'm on the Mainland doing academic stuff, visiting scattered relatives when I can, and generally without my normal Internet connection, so I'm sorry if I seem lazy and my analysis a bit cursory lately.)

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