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UN council postpones N.Korea sanctions vote to Wednesday
By Carole LANDRY
United Nations, United States (AFP) March 1, 2016

S. Korea's Park says North must 'pay price' for nuclear test
Seoul (AFP) March 1, 2016 - North Korea must pay the price for its latest nuclear test and rocket launch, South Korean President Park Geun-Hye said Tuesday, vowing to pressure Pyongyang into accepting denuclearisation as its only viable option for survival.

In a televised speech to mark the anniversary of a key date in Korea's struggle against Japanese colonial rule, Park said failure to respond to the North's "reckless provocations" would only result in further nuclear tests.

"If we leave them alone, they will continue," said the president, who has significantly toughened her stance against Pyongyang in the wake of the North's fourth nuclear test on January 6 and a long-range rocket launch last month that was widely condemned as a ballistic missile test.

"North Korea must clearly understand... that they can no longer maintain their regime through nuclear weapons," Park said.

Her comments came as the UN Security Council prepared to vote Tuesday on a new US-drafted resolution that would impose the toughest sanctions yet on North Korea over its nuclear weapons programme.

US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said adoption of the resolution would send "an unambiguous and unyielding message to the DPRK regime: The world will not accept your proliferation. There will be consequences for your actions."

The draft text would require countries to take the unprecedented step of inspecting all cargo to and from North Korea, impose new trade restrictions and bar North Korean vessels suspected of carrying illegal goods from ports.

- 'Pay the price' -

Park said the draft, which has secured the approval of North Korea's main ally China, showed the collective will of the international community to ensure that Pyongyang "pay the price" for its refusal to halt its nuclear weapons programme.

"My government will leave the door for dialogue open, but until North Korea shows they are willing to change and to pursue denuclearisation, we and the international community will continue to pressure North Korea," she said.

"The ball is now in North Korea's court," she added.

The UN resolution currently under discussion at the Security Council, represents a compromise between the United States and China, who had been at odds over how to respond to North Korea's recent tests.

China wants its reclusive neighbour to halt its nuclear weapons programme and return to six-party international talks, maintaining that dialogue -- rather than sanctions -- is the best way to curb Pyongyang's behaviour.

Beijing fears too much pressure could trigger the collapse of leader Kim Jong-Un's pariah regime, creating chaos on its border.

Already elevated tensions on the Korean peninsula are likely to rise further next week when South Korea and the United States kick off annual joint military drills.

North Korea views the exercises as provocative rehearsals for invasion, and has repeatedly demanded their permanent cancellation.

In an editorial to mark the 1919 independence movement anniversary, the North Korean ruling party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, urged the defeat of "foreign forces" massing against the country.

"The US and South Korean hostile forces seeking to start a nuclear war against us are the root source of threat to peace and stability on the Korean peninsula," the editorial said.

The UN Security Council delayed until Wednesday a vote on a new raft of sanctions on North Korea to punish the reclusive regime after its fourth nuclear test and rocket launch.

With backing from China, the council is expected to adopt a US-drafted resolution that takes aim at North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs by cutting off sources of hard currency and access to technology.

The council had initially planned to vote on Tuesday, but the meeting was delayed at Russia's request.

Russia's UN mission declined to provide reasons for the delay, but spokesman Alexei Zaytsev said "we confirm that the vote will take place tomorrow" at 10:00 am (1500 GMT).

The United States has described the package of measures as the toughest sanctions yet to hit North Korea, but the impact will depend largely on China, Pyongyang's sole ally and main benefactor.

North Korea carried out its fourth nuclear test on January 6, which was followed by the launch on February 7 of a satellite-bearing rocket that the world viewed as a disguised ballistic missile test.

Both tests are banned under a series of UN resolutions that condemn North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs as a threat to world peace and security.

The latest draft would require countries to take the unprecedented step of inspecting all cargo to and from North Korea, impose new trade restrictions and bar vessels suspected of carrying illegal goods for North Korea from ports.

The measure provides for a ban on exports of coal, iron and iron ore from North Korea, except if that revenue is used for "livelihood purposes" and not to fund Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The resolution would also ban sales of gold, titanium and rare earth minerals from North Korea and would prohibit the supply of aviation fuel including rocket fuel to the reclusive country.

Banking restrictions would be tightened and governments would be required to ban flights of any plane suspected of carrying contraband destined for North Korea.

- A shift from China? -

The United States presented the draft resolution to the council last week after reaching agreement with China.

The final text took seven weeks to negotiate and saw the United States join forces with Japan and South Korea to push for new measures that went beyond the four sets of sanctions already in place since 2006.

"The United States, South Korea and Japan have stopped outsourcing to China their policy on North Korea," said Roberta Cohen, an expert on North Korea at the US Brookings think tank.

Talks on ramping up the sanctions came as South Korea and the United States announced plans for the deployment of a new missile defense system on the Korean peninsula and the adoption of new US sanctions against Pyongyang.

China, and to a lesser extent Russia, "will find loopholes, they always have" to avoid fully implementing UN sanctions, said Cohen.

But Beijing "sees the mobilization of alliances, strong military alilances between the United States, South Korea and Japan and it sees that it can't go on the way it has," she added.

The resolution would add 16 individuals and 12 entities to the UN sanctions blacklist including North Korea's NADA space agency and its intelligence agency, the Reconnaissance General Bureau.

Luxury watches, snowmobiles, recreational watercraft such as sea-doos and sports equipment would be added to the list of luxury items banned from sale to North Korea, building on a previous resolution targeting Pyongyang's elites.

As the council prepared to vote, North Korea announced in Geneva that it will no longer take part in meetings of the UN Human Rights Council, which had set up an inquiry into crimes against humanity by Pyongyang.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong charged that the rights council was plagued by "politicization, selectivity and double standards."

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