UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Saturday to impose limited sanctions on North Korea for its recent missile tests, and demanded that the reclusive communist nation suspend its ballistic missile program. North Korea immediately rejected the resolution and vowed to launch more missiles.
U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said North Korea set "a world record" for a rejection — 45 minutes — and warned that Pyongyang's failure to comply could lead to further council action. He did not say what that might be.
The resolution bans all U.N. member states from selling material or technology for missiles or weapons of mass destruction to North Korea, and from receiving missiles, banned weapons or technology from Pyongyang.
It condemns North Korea's multiple missile launches on July 5 and demands that North Korea "suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program" and re-establish a moratorium on missile launches. It strongly urges North Korea to return to six-party talks on its nuclear program, which have been stalled since last September.
North Korea's U.N. Ambassador, Pak Gil Yon, made a rare appearance in the Security Council chamber for the vote. Speaking afterward, he accused the council of "unjustifiable and gangster-like" action aimed at isolating his country, known officially as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK.
"The delegation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea resolutely condemns the attempt of some countries to misuse the Security Council for the despicable political aim to isolate and put pressure on the DPRK, and totally rejects the resolution," he said.
The Korean People's Army "will go on with missile launch exercises as part of its efforts to bolster deterrent for self-defense in the future," he said.
Pak stressed that the North has a legal right to test missiles and said it would be "foolish" to give advance warning because the United States and the DPRK are still technically at war and the U.S. has threatened to intercept North Korean missiles "with the collusion of Japan."
Pak warned that North Korea will "take stronger physical actions of other forms should any other country ... take issue with the exercises and put pressure."
He immediately left the council chamber at the end of his speech in a move considered a breach of diplomatic protocol.
The resolution culminated 10 days of difficult negotiations and came after a last-minute compromise between Japan, the United States and Britain, who wanted a tough statement, and Russia and China, who favored weaker language.
The council was divided on one issue during the final negotiations: if the resolution should be adopted under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which allows for military force to make sure the resolution is obeyed.
China had threatened to veto any resolution that mentioned Chapter 7 and that mention was dropped in the final compromise proposed by Britain with support from France and China.
The resolution adopted Saturday by a 15-0 vote states that the Security Council was "acting under its special responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security."
The United States, Britain, France and Japan insist that even without Chapter 7, the resolution is mandatory and all countries are required to comply — including North Korea.
Japan, which views itself as a potential target of North Korean missiles, sponsored the initial resolution, which in the end was put to a vote as a presidential text, with the support of all council members.
"The council has acted swiftly and robustly in response to the reckless and condemnable act of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea," Japan's Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Shintaro Ito told the council.
Before Pak spoke, Bolton said the Security Council "sends an unequivocal, unambiguous and unanimous message to Pyongyang: suspend your ballistic missile program, stop your procurement of materials related to weapons of mass destruction, and implement your September, 2005 commitment to verifiably dismantle your nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs."
In the September statement signed by the six parties, North Korea made a commitment to abandon "all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs" and return at an early date to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Pak made no mention of North Korea returning to the six-party talks but indicated that Pyongyang remained committed to the September agreement.
"The DPRK remains unchanged in its will to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula in a negotiated peaceful manner," he said. "The latest missile launch exercises are quite irrelevant to the six-party talks."
China's U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya said his country, the North's closest ally, adopted "a responsible attitude" in opposing a Chapter 7 resolution, which would "further complicate and aggravate the situation.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the resolution sends "an appropriate signal" to North Korea "on the need to display restraint and to abide by its obligations regarding missiles."