UN won’t sacrifice substance for new action against N. Korea, envoy says
October 10, 2016
SEOUL, South Korea — The U.N. Security Council wants to pass new measures punishing North Korea for its latest nuclear test “as quickly as possible” without sacrificing substance, a senior U.S. envoy said Monday.
Samantha Power made the remarks during her first trip to South Korea since becoming Washington’s chief envoy to the world body in 2013. She arrived in Seoul late Saturday after a trip to Japan as she seeks to reassure allies of U.S. commitment to their security and to shore up support for a fresh Security Council resolution against Pyongyang.
“We are working around the clock to secure the passage of this resolution as quickly as possible,” Power told reporters after meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.
But, she added: “We are not going to sacrifice or shortchange our ambition to rush this out. We want this resolution to be practically impactful on the ground.”
The high-profile visit comes as tensions have risen sharply on the divided peninsula after North Korea conducted two underground nuclear tests and nearly two dozen ballistic missile launches this year. The most recent nuclear blast, on Sept. 9, was its strongest ever, and it claims to have developed nuclear warheads small enough to fit into a warhead.
In March, the Security Council passed a resolution with what were considered its toughest sanctions yet against the North. But, like other international efforts over more than two decades, they have failed to stop Pyongyang from pursuing its nuclear weapons program.
On Sunday, Power toured the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone dividing the two countries. She later told a news conference that the U.S. would use all means necessary, including U.S. military deterrence, against the growing threat from the North.
The U.S. and its allies face stiff challenges in obtaining support from Security Council members China and Russia for even tougher measures. Beijing, a traditional ally of the North, signed onto the previous resolution but since has seen its own relationship with Washington become increasingly strained. It also doesn’t want to risk the North’s collapse, which would remove a buffer with democratic South Korea.
Washington has engaged China at the highest levels and will “maintain and deepen contact,” Power said, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
There has been some concern that South Korea may fear angering major trading partner China. Power said Washington and Seoul were “completely in lock step” about negotiations over imposing new measures against the North.
The U.S. also is working to draw attention to North Korea’s human rights abuses. Earlier Monday, Power visited an alternative school for young North Korean defectors.
She posted on Twitter a selfie with a group of students there and the comment, “Met inspiring young defectors at Daum School. Risked gulags to flee North Korea. Now studying to be nurses, engineers, lawyers in South Korea.”
She also went to the home of Jung Gwang-il, a former North Korean political prisoner who defected to the South and is now leading a human rights group called “No Chain.” She posted a photo of him watching the debate between U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
In a parallel development, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, Robert King, arrived in South Korea on Monday for a four-day visit that includes discussion with diplomats and attendance at a human rights forum, Yonhap reported.