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2009年5月28日 (木)


--The Asahi Shimbun, May 27(IHT/Asahi: May 28,2009)
EDITORIAL: Actions against N. Korea

In light of North Korea's second nuclear test earlier this week, the eyes of the world are on the United Nations Security Council.

It is now clear that Resolution 1718, adopted in October 2006 in condemnation of Pyongyang's first nuclear test, has effectively failed. This is a serious matter for the Security Council, whose very reason for existence could be called into question. The international community must unite and make its will abundantly clear to North Korea.

An emergency meeting of the Security Council unanimously agreed on drafting a new resolution. U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso and South Korean President Lee Myung Bak on the phone. Noting the need for a "strong U.N. resolution," Obama reaffirmed that the United States, Japan and South Korea should keep working together for that end.

The 2006 resolution represented a break from tradition in two ways. For one, it was the first time that the Security Council adopted a resolution against North Korea. Secondly, the resolution provided for sanctions against the reclusive dictatorship, including a freeze on the movement of goods and funds associated with the development of weapons of mass destruction.

Unfortunately, however, enforcement of the sanctions was left to the discretion of individual nations, and the resolution effectively did not function. There were concerns that North Korea may react irrationally to sudden sanctions. Also, the resolution could not be made too binding if all member countries were to stand together.

In fact, there is considerable variance in what motivates different countries in their relations with North Korea. Pyongyang's nuclear capabilities are a grave threat to Japan, South Korea and the United States, and are certainly not acceptable to China and Russia. There is no doubt that both Beijing and Moscow are hoping North Korea would become a more open nation.

But neither China nor Russia wants to invite any confusion on the Korean Peninsula that might boomerang on themselves. This makes them cautious about applying any strong pressure on North Korea.

Such individual differences among Security Council members were revealed when Pyongyang test-fired a long-range ballistic missile last month. The council members split over whether to issue a resolution condemning Pyongyang or a presidential statement.

But this time, North Korea went one step further in blackmailing the international community with its nuclear test and missiles. The country made its nuclear ambitions amply clear to the world. Now is the time for all Security Council members to set aside their differences and act as one in pressing North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

What sanctions the Security Council will come up with is a matter of much interest. But the most important point is that the resolution must be effective and have the backing of all members.

In that sense, we would like to again point out China's importance. Any further escalation of regional tensions due to North Korea's nuclear program could not be desirable for China. And we also remind China that it is responsible for nuclear nonproliferation and peace as a world power.

Japan is taking part in the drafting of the new resolution, but there are also other things it should be doing. Japan is prepared to normalize relations with North Korea and provide economic assistance if the latter changes its policies, including that on the abduction issue. This is the message Japan must try to convey while forging global solidarity.

We need only to look at the Iranian problem and the difficulties faced by Mideast peace talks to understand that no U.N. resolution can be a panacea. But the Security Council is now being tested on whether it can come up with a truly effective resolution.


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