Russia's U.N. Envoy Sees Wide Agreement for N. Korea Resolution

Russia's U.N. ambassador said Thursday there is wide agreement among key world powers on what a new U.N. resolution should include to respond to North Korea's second nuclear test which violated a Security Council ban.

But Vitaly Churkin cautioned that putting the elements together and getting agreement will take time because the issues are"complicated" and there are many suggestions.

"It would maybe take 10 resolutions to incorporate them all," he said.

Ambassadors from the five permanent veto-wielding council members — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — and the two countries most closely affected by the nuclear test, Japan and South Korea, met behind closed doors Thursday to discuss initial reactions from their governments to the list of proposals for possible inclusion in the new resolution.

"The process is moving forward in a good atmosphere, a cooperative approach, because we all recognize the scale of the threat that is being posed," Britain's U.N. Ambassador John Sawers said afterwards. "This is quite a complicated effort and ... we need some time."

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, who is coordinating the effort, agreed. "We're working hard. It's constructive," she said.

Japan's U.N. Ambassador Yukio Takasu stressed that "the Security Council must respond clearly and strongly and as early as possible."

Diplomats said a draft of the proposed resolution is not expected to be circulated until next week.

Another diplomat familiar with the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions are closed, said there was a clear commitment to go for sanctions in the new resolution and no reluctance from North Korea's allies, China and Russia.

Takasu sidestepped a question on whether China had responded to the proposals saying, "China understands the seriousness of the situation. We are working very constructively."

Churkin told reporters earlier Thursday: "There is a high degree of agreement, I think, among us of where we need to go on this one."

In response to North Korea's first nuclear test in October 2006, the Security Council approved a resolution banning further tests and ballistic missile launches and demanding that Pyongyang abandon all nuclear weapons and return to six-party talks aimed at eliminating its nuclear program. It also banned the import and export of heavy weapons and material that could be used in nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and the import of luxury goods used by the country's elite — and it authorized ship searches for banned weapons.

Churkin, the current council president, explained before the meeting Thursday that sometimes the second step is more difficult than the first because "the obvious things" are included in the first resolution "and it is sort of easier ... to agree on it."

"If you are considering a second resolution, then the options are broader, you have to be more sort of analytical in what you are doing," he said. "And, of course, the matter is ... so complicated you have to have technical and expert analysis, and this is what they are doing in capitals."

After the meeting, Churkin told reporters: "Now we need to take some time to reflect on what the specific elements of the future resolution need to be."

According to the unnamed U.N. diplomat familiar with the talks, the proposals for expanded sanctions include widening the arms embargo to include light weapons as well as heavy weapons, an asset freeze on individuals and additional companies, restrictions on flights to and from North Korea, and restrictions on the country's financial and banking operations.

Other proposals would give teeth to the luxury goods ban and to the ship searches to ensure that these measures were enforced, the diplomat said.

The new Security Council resolution will also likely condemn North Korea for violating the 2006 resolution, repeat the council's demand that no further tests be conducted, and urge Pyongyang to return to six-party talks, the diplomat said.

"We need to proceed with the six-party talks," Churkin stressed.

According to the unnamed diplomat, Russia and China insist that the Security Council give Pyongyang a chance to show "goodwill" before any sanctions or enforcement measures in the new resolution take effect.

That could possibly mean setting a target date for the resolution to become operative, the diplomat said. To stop the resolution from going into force, according to the diplomat, North Korea would have to take several steps, such as agreeing to halt nuclear tests, allowing U.N. nuclear inspectors back into the country to dismantle its nuclear facilities, and rejoining the six-party talks and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.