Enforcing N.Korean Sanctions Risky

Enforcing sanctions on North Korea voted by the UN Security Council Saturday, October 14, could be highly risky, especially the high-seas interdiction of North Korean vessels, experts said Sunday.

Enforcing N.Korean Sanctions Risky

"I think the North Koreans would shoot back," John Pike, director of Global Security.Org, a research group that specializes in national security and military affairs, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

"I just don't have the sense that there is any degree of assurance that they wouldn't get into a shooting match," he said.

The council resolution stops well short of authorizing military action against North Korea for defying the international community with the nuclear test Pyongyang announced that it carried out on October 9.

But the resolution slaps an embargo on sales or transfers in or out of North Korea of a range of items that could be used in its missile, nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction program.

Pushed by the United States but the product of a compromise, the resolution also bans the sale or transfer to North Korea of major weapons systems -- from armor to warships, combat aircraft and missiles.

North Korea, however, on Saturday said it "totally rejects" the UN sanctions, accusing the world body of "double standards".

"This clearly testifies that the Security Council has completely lost its impartiality and still persists in applying double standards in its work," ambassador Pak Gil Yon told the Security Council.

"It is gangster-like for the Security Council to have adopted today a coercive resolution while neglecting the nuclear threat and moves for sanctions and pressure of the United States," he added.

Fragile Consensus

"I think the North Koreans would shoot back," said Pike.

The United States is positioned to step up inspections of North Korean ships in international waters if it decides to aggressively enforce the sanctions against Pyongyang which were unanimously backed by the Security Council.

But analysts question how forcefully Washington can act without splintering a fragile political consensus with key countries like China and South Korea.

Alan Romberg, a North Korea specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations, said a move to inspect all ships coming out of North Korea "raises the specter of real confrontation.

"And I doubt very much that China for instance will go along with that even though China is extremely angry at what the North has done. But that kind of activity could trigger a real military confrontation," he said.

Since May 2003, the United States has been quietly building an international network to track and monitor North Korean ships and aircrafts, and to intercept suspect shipments.

More than a dozen interdictions are reported to have been carried out under the aegis of the so-called Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), many of them involving shipments of suspect materials to Iran. But officials have been secretive about the results.

About 20 exercises have been conducted in the Pacific, the Mediterranean and the Arabian Sea to run through interdiction scenarios, and groups of experts meet periodically to discuss issues raised.

Another exercise is scheduled for the end of the month in Bahrain, according to US military sources.

US officials have said more than 70 countries have expressed support for the initiative. France, for instance, led a simulated air interception exercise in June 2004. Japan hosted a maritime interception exercise in October 2005.

But South Korea and China, which enfold North Korea, have remained aloof from the PSI activities, leaving a big hole in the net.

Analysts were dubious that that will change with the UN resolution.

"I think that one set of questions is how strictly China and South Korea are going to choose to implement it," said Richard Bush, an expert at the Brookings Institution.

He said the phrase "as necessary" in a key passage of the resolution appeared to be a loophole that will give either country leeway in deciding how much to cooperate with international efforts to bottle up North Korea.

"There is some very practical questions of how this is going to be implemented in the waters surrounding North Korea," he said.

"And will North Korean ships allow themselves to be boarded?" he asked.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16