The United Nations Security Council today continued discussions at experts’ level over what action to take against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) after its reported nuclear test, with the issue of sanctions and their enforcement high on the agenda of a possible draft resolution.
“I think that is something that the Council is discussing intensely amongst themselves,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan told reporters this morning when asked about invoking Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which allows for sanctions and use of force in the case of a threat to or breach of peace. “I hope they will be able to come up with one voice, and decide on measures that should be taken.”
At the same time he urged DPRK leader Kim Jong-Il to work with the international community, and said he believed the United States and the DPRK should talk to each other.
“I think what is clear is that he has not paid attention to the will of the international community and all the appeals that have been made to him,” Mr. Annan added, when asked whether Mr. Kim was a major threat to the world or just an irritant. “And so, he has created a situation which is difficult, which we need to deal with, and I believe we need to engage him and deal with the issue and take the measures necessary.”
Asked whether the US should have direct bilateral talks with the DPRK, the Secretary-General said he had always argued that “we should talk to parties whose behaviour we want to change, whose behaviour we want to influence.
“And from that point of view I believe that the US and North Korea should talk. They did talk in the past,” he added.
Questioned about DPRK statements that imposing sanctions would be tantamount to a declaration of war and that another nuclear test was possible, Mr. Annan urged “the North Korean authorities not to escalate the situation any further… We already have an extremely difficult situation.”
Yesterday, the Council’s five veto-wielding members – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and US – met to discuss a draft resolution. The experts’ level meetings have been going on since Monday, the day the test was reported. That same day the Council held consultations during which members strongly condemned the reported test.
Mr. Annan was asked today whether he thought his heir apparent, Republic of Korea’s Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon, should become more personally involved in the DPRK issue.
“I think he has an advantage in the sense that he has been personally deeply involved with the issue already,” Mr. Annan said. “He knows the culture and the region well. And he knows the key players involved. I think that should stand him in good stead. Whether he should go there directly and when will depend very much on the circumstances and that will be a question of judgment for him to make.”
Later today Mr. Annan, who steps down from office on 31 December, was meeting with Mr. Ban, who was formally chosen by the 15-member Security Council on Monday as its nominee to be the next Secretary-General but still has to be officially appointed by the 192-member General Assembly.