Sunday, October 15, 2006

The U.N. votes to sanction North Korea

By Michael J.W. Stickings

There has been some speculation that North Korea's nuclear test wasn't nuclear at all, but it now appears that it was in fact a nuclear bomb that was detonated last week. WaPo: "Initial environmental samples collected by a U.S. military aircraft detected signs of radiation over the Sea of Japan, possibly confirming North Korea's nuclear test... Officials said the positive radiation result was consistent with an atomic test and would make it possible to rule out the possibility that Monday's test had been conducted with conventional explosives alone." Still, the investigation continues.

Meanwhile, according to the BBC, "[t]he UN Security Council has voted unanimously in favour of a resolution imposing sanctions on North Korea over its claimed nuclear test". That means that both China and Russia agree to this "swift and tough" move (Bush's words), although the sanctions are not "backed by the threat of military force" and China expressed "'reservations' about provisions for cargo checks on North Korean ships". (See also CNN.)

Unanimity may yet break down. The resolution may not hold. Still, it's a bold move by a body that all too often shuns bold moves. North Korea may see it as a declaration of war, and a permanent resolution to this crisis may be a long way off, but this is nonetheless a promising development.

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