China and Russia counter resolution against North Korea

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The flag of North Korea

China and Russia have today put forward a jointly-crafted resolution regarding sanctions against North Korea. The document was released to counter a Japanese alternative, which was written in response to last week's Taepodong-2 missile tests. This Sino-Russian version, however, removes sections which could advocate military action against Pyongyang.

The move comes after a number of Chinese requests this week to revise the original Japanese version, claiming that tensions in the region would increase if it were to be adopted. As a result, Chinese diplomats have been instructed to veto the initial document, which advocates much stronger sanctions against North Korea than neighbours Russia and China would have felt comfortable with.

The two nations presented their revised resolution to the United Nations this afternoon. After reviewing a draft copy - which was released to the Associated Press - several influential nations, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have reaffirmed their support for Japan's initial version.

Both Russia and China, who share a border with the nation, have been placed in a difficult position by last week's missile tests. Both countries have relatively positive relations with North Korea but their commitment to the international community - mainly the UN Security Council - has led to an impartial stance on this issue. The publishing of this "counter-resolution" is the first active move the two nations have made against the North since the tests, who still approve of sanctions but describe Japan's proposed extensive restrictions as "over-reacting."

Japan and the United States have announced tonight that they still intend to put their first resolution to a vote, despite the threat of a veto by China and possibly Russia. A Japanese diplomat has said that the Sino-Russian reworking was "a step in the right direction" but lacked decisive wording on important issues. The use of weaker language - namely asking instead of demanding - has also been criticised.

South Korea has not commented directly on the new resolution, but has instead urged North Korea to return to the Six-Party Talks, which are seen to be a key step forward in ensuring diplomacy between the nation and its democratic peers.