UNITED NATIONS – The United States proposed tough U.N. sanctions Monday against North Korea after it said it had performed a nuclear test, including a trade ban on military and luxury items, the power to inspect all cargo entering or leaving the country, and freezing assets connected with its weapons programs.
Security council members earlier condemned North Korea for its reported nuclear test, demanding at an emergency meeting that the communist nation return to six-party talks on its weapons program, U.N. ambassadors said.
The U.S. proposals were among several ideas for a Security Council resolution that the United States shared with council diplomats after North Korea announced that it had set off an atomic explosion underground. A copy of the document was obtained by The Associated Press.
The document says that the United States wants the resolution to fall under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which deals explicitly with threats to international peace and security, as well as acts of aggression. Chapter 7 grants the council the authority to impose a range of measures that include breaking diplomatic ties and imposing economic and military sanctions to taking military action.
Military action, however, is far from anyone's minds.
"We believe that highly provocative act requires a very strong resolution explicitly under Chapter 7 that provides for sanctions against the North Korean regime," the document said.
Among the proposals were to:
— Prohibit trade in materials that could be used to make or deliver weapons of mass destruction.
— Require states to make sure that North Korea not use their territory or entities for proliferation or illicit activities. Financial transactions that North Korea could use to support those programs would also be banned.
— Require states to freeze all assets related to North Korea's weapons and missile programs, as well as any other illicit activities it conducts.
— Authorize inspection of all cargo to and from North Korea to limit proliferation.
— Ban trade with North Korea in luxury goods and military items
U.S. Ambassador John Bolton told the Security Council that Washington would view a North Korean attack on South Korea or Japan as an attack on the United States, U.N. diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the meeting was closed. The United States has defense agreements with Tokyo and Seoul, and thousands of U.S. troops are stationed in both countries.
President Bush said that North Korea's action deserves "an immediate response by the United Nations Security Council."
North Korea's ambassador to the U.N. remained defiant, saying the Security Council should congratulate North Korea for its nuclear test instead of passing "useless" resolutions or statements.
Ambassador Pak Gil Yon told reporters he was proud of the North Koreans who conducted the test and said it will contribute "to the maintenance and guarantee of peace and security in the peninsula and the region."
"We've already said that were there to be a nuclear test it would be a threat to international peace and security," Britain's U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones-Parry said. "I think it follows that action under Chapter 7 is what is appropriate. We'll have to look at what sort of measures can be agreed by the council but certainly the United Kingdom would support proposals put down to that effect."
Security Council experts were to meet to discuss the U.S. proposals, the ambassadors said.
"No one defended it, no one even came close to defending it," Bolton said of the reported test. "I was very impressed by the unanimity of the council ... on the need for a strong and swift answer to what everyone agreed amounted to a threat to international peace and security."
North Korea was added to the agenda of an already scheduled council meeting that officially nominated South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon as the next secretary-general, and he said he would work to resolve the North Korean crisis.
If appointed to the top job, Ban said he would "contribute as much as I can to the resolution of all kinds of problems including the North Korean nuclear issue that may threaten international peace and security."
The timing of North Korea's test is certain to increase speculation that North Korea wanted to express its displeasure and opposition to Ban's selection as the Security Council's candidate to succeed Kofi Annan.
Ban has said in the past that one of his first acts would be to go to North Korea.
Under the U.N. Charter, the 15-member Security Council makes a recommendation for the next secretary-general to the 192-member General Assembly, which must give final approval. Ban will be the only name on the ballot.
Ban, 62, topped four informal polls in the council, and in the last one he was the only candidate not to get a veto by one of its five permanent members. After that result, the other five candidates dropped out of the race.
In Monday's straw poll, Ban won 14 favorable votes and one expressing no opinion. Most importantly, he won the support of the council's five veto-wielding nations — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.
Ban has been South Korea's foreign minister for more than 2 1/2 years and served as national security adviser to two presidents — jobs that focused on relations with North Korea. He has served as a diplomat for nearly 40 years.