Pak Tok Hun, North Korea's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, second from left, walks to the North Korean Mission to the UN Tuesday morning, May 26, 2009. North Korea reportedly tested two more short-range missiles Tuesday.
Observations on the Recent United Nations Security Council Resolution on North Korea
June 11, 2009
Author: William H. Tobey, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
On June 12, 2009, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1874 in response to recent provocative actions by North Korea, including a second nuclear test. Chinese and Russian support for a new U.N. Security Council resolution that imposes additional sanctions is potentially significant. However, whether China in particular will support tough implementation of the resolution and will take a harder line in its bilateral relations with North Korea remains to be seen, and will ultimately determine the success or failure of efforts to reverse North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
Key points regarding the resolution are:
- "Taking measures" under Article 41 of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, does not to authorize use of force in enforcing the draft resolution's provisions. Immediately after passage of the Resolution, China emphasized this point, removing any fears that may have arisen in Pyongyang that Beijing would hold them to a strict standard of compliance with the Resolution.
- The new resolution would substantially broaden the ban on trade in military goods to and from North Korea from provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718. This could affect a significant potential source of revenue for Pyongyang.
- Inspection in international waters for proscribed cargoes appears to depend on consent by the vessel's flag state; North Korea would be unlikely to offer such consent, nor (given Pyongyang's record of noncompliance with Security Council Resolutions) to comply with the draft resolution's provisions for inspection in a third party harbor. This compromise provision, if enforced at all, seems likely to lead to noncompliance by North Korea and more resolutions by the Security Council.
- The draft resolution's provisions restricting grants, financial assistance, and concessionary loans in paragraphs 19 and 20 could have a substantial affect on trade and investment in North Korea, if Pyongyang's major trade partners adhere to them. If enforced, it could make it difficult for North Korea to finance its trade deficit, given its lack of creditworthiness on a commercial basis.
The draft resolution falls short of airtight provisions that would enable member states to prevent any further exports of nuclear material or technology by North Korea. Given the North's record of proliferating nuclear and ballistic missile technology, such provisions are of utmost importance.
For more information about this publication please contact the Belfer Center Communications Office at 617-495-9858.
For Academic Citation: