U.N. Dithers in Response to North Korean Provocation

Once again North Korea has thumbed its nose at the international community, including its ally China, by confirming on Tuesday (February 12th) that it had conducted its third and most powerful nuclear test.

“A third nuclear test has been successfully staged,” the North’s state-run Korean Central News agency said. “The nuclear test was conducted as part of measures to protect our national security and sovereignty against the reckless hostility of the United States that violated our republic’s right for a peaceful satellite launch.”

In response, the United Nations Security Council met in an emergency closed consultation session Tuesday morning. Its rotating presidency this month just happens to be filled by South Korea, no doubt one of the reasons that North Korea chose this particular month to conduct its latest test.

Approximately two hours after the closed session began, South Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Kim Sung-hwan emerged from the Security Council chamber to read the following press statement to reporters:

“The members of the Security Council held urgent consultations to address the serious situation arising from the nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The members of the Security Council strongly condemned this test, which is a grave violation of Security Council resolution 1718(2006), 1874(2009) and 2087(2013), and therefore there continues to exist a clear threat to international peace and security.

The members of the Security Council recalled that in January they unanimously adopted resolution 2087, which expressed the Council’s determination to take “significant action” in the event of a further DPRK nuclear test.

In line with this commitment and the gravity of this violation, the members of the Security Council will begin work immediately on appropriate measures in a Security Council resolution.”

Thus, in a situation crying out for immediate “significant action,” the Security Council punted with a statement of condemnation and the promise to “begin work” on yet another Security Council resolution for North Korea to disregard.  When I asked Foreign Minister Sung-hwan the target time for completion of the resolution and its passage, he would not say other than to note that work in the Security Council has just started.

The United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice followed Mr. Sung-hwan to the podium. She said that North Korea’s “highly provocative nuclear test” directly violates its obligations under several unanimous Security Council resolutions.  “North Korea’s continued work on its nuclear and missile programs seriously undermines regional and international peace and security and threatens the security of a number of countries, including the United States,” she said.

Ambassador Rice would not specify the additional measures against North Korea that she said the Security Council would consider. However, with her customary show of steely determination, she vowed that what the Council will be discussing “will not only tighten the existing measures but—we aim to augment the sanctions regime that is already quite strong.” When asked whether such measures would include sanctions on financial institutions, she replied that “those categories are areas that we think are ripe for appropriate further action.”

Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s young leader who succeeded his father as dictator of the rogue state, is trying to prove his mettle with his military, which holds the real power in North Korea. He has engaged in a series of provocative actions leading up to the latest nuclear test, including a rocket launch testing North Korea’s ballistic missile technology that led to the last Security Council resolution in January and an incendiary video portraying a nuclear attack on the United States.

Raising the stakes further, North Korea’s most powerful military body, the National Defense Commission, warned that its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs were targeted at the United States.

Realistically, there is little the United Nations can do that would have any material impact on North Korea’s military strategy.  North Korea has such little respect for the United Nations that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon – who voiced his own condemnation of the latest test – admitted that North Korea’s leadership won’t even take his phone calls.

In concert with its would-be nuclear arms mate Iran, which has weathered enormous economic pain to pursue its ambitions, North Korea will continue to push the boundaries of its own nuclear and ballistic missiles capabilities irrespective of any new UN sanctions.

China is the only country with the leverage to possibly make some headway. It could threaten to cut off the supply of oil to North Korea, for example, which would cripple North Korea’s military and economic development unless it could somehow get oil from Iran.

China did once briefly cut off the supply of oil to North Korea ten years ago. And China has expressed its “firm opposition” to North Korea’s latest nuclear test, siding with the “widespread opposition from the international community.” However, while China may be inclined to go along with more financial sanctions through the Security Council, which will have only a minor incremental impact on North Korea, it is not likely to take any significant extra steps on its own to strangle North Korea’s economy for fear of the destabilizing effects of such actions, including a mass movement of refugees from North Korea into China.

We can expect a lot of fanfare in the coming days or weeks as the Security Council ends up finally producing a more toughly worded unanimous resolution with some enhanced sanctions. But, to quote William Shakespeare, it will be “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Iran is watching how President Obama reacts to North Korea’s latest provocation. Will he hide behind the United Nations curtain and continue to push for world-wide nuclear disarmament, or will he finally confront the rogue nations whose possession of nuclear arms poses a danger to all of humanity?

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  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    Is there anyone left (no pun intended) in their right (again, no pun intended) mind, who believes the thugocrats, implanted at the UN, are good for anything, let alone addressing other thug's machinations?

    The UN is a cesspool and we all know this. Yet, time and again, the poohbahs seek their "condemnation". It is akin to seeking dispensation from a rapist towards his victims!

    This is the true face of the UN – http://adinakutnicki.com/2012/12/23/what-happens-

    Time to de-fund, and boot them off U.S. shores!

    Adina kutnicki, Israel – http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

    • Raymond

      You are right; the UN is no longer needed, and was corrupted when leaders of third world nations were allowed to take over this very important one time organisation; they treat it like they do with their own country; just like Obama is doing to the USA.

  • Mary Sue

    Someone with a conscience needs to take over China. Well, North Korea too, but you know. Looks like little Jong-Un was a red diaper baby imbibing the purple koolaid from birth.

  • Loyal Achates

    And I suppose you want to launch an assault on a nuclear-armed rogue regime with nothing to lose? There's dumb and then there's FPM.

    • UCSPanther

      We don't need to. We just need to contain them until they cave in under their own weight.

    • JacksonPearson

      So are you telling us, that you're a dummy too? Who'd thunk?

  • RussellB

    Of course, NK is a nuclear country with proven capabilities. Who wants to take a risk of having one of their major cities vaporized out of existence?

  • kasandra

    And, speaking of strong responses, let's not forget that, when asked Tuesday morning whether she expects a strong condemnation from the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said: “We’ll do the usual drill.”


    …and why not thumb their nose at the international community? It is run by second generation Benjamin Spockian Babies.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Is North Korea exploding bombs designed in Iran for Amaddinnerjacket? Iran can not at this
    time do nuclear bomb testing, they are waiting to do that over Israel. One trait of sinister
    individuals and criminal groups is to mock thier victims, dehumanize all others and to
    claim that there is no value to those they destroy so then no guilt in amusing passtimes.
    One day for little Jong-un a strong willed leader in the free world may say enoug is enough
    and the games end. Bumping off the leadership of North Korea can happen and shouild
    be done to avoid hundreds of thousands of deaths if not millions………………Williaim

  • pierce

    The UN has been dithering ever since it came into existence. Name one outstanding thing that the UN has sponsored, or accomplished in regards to world peace. I am not holding my breath. They back rogue regimes such as Iran and North Korea. It is really too bad, as a lot could have been accomplished, and the idea behind it so very worthy, but with no accomplished leader to step on aggressive world wannabes, well I am not so sure they should abandon the idea of a world governing body. Just my opinion.

  • John Stone

    Killing off the leadership would be a half way measure and would risk failure. Frankly, the other Asiatics should get together and take the place out militarily. I would imagine that at this point it is wildly unlikely that North Korea could get a nuclear weapon in the air against a really energetic assault from their neighbors. The greatest damage would probably be to South Korea.

    It would be overreach for us too involved, and of course none of this is going to happen.

  • kafir4life

    Our president, Barack Benghazi Obama is a coward. A little boy in a big boy suit.