Global Insights: Geopolitics Constrain U.N. Action on North Korea

Global Insights: Geopolitics Constrain U.N. Action on North Korea

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) capped a week of tough negotiations yesterday over a response to North Korea's April 5 launch of a multi-staged rocket. In a strongly worded statement, this month's UNSC president, Mexican Ambassador Claude Heller, termed the launch a "contravention" of UNSC Resolution 1718, which forbids the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) from engaging in missile-related activities.

The government of the DPRK claimed the launch was meant to place a communications satellite into orbit. However, no one outside North Korea has spotted the alleged satellite. Since the technologies used for space rockets and long-range ballistic missiles are similar, most analysts consider the launch an attempt to improve, as well as showcase, Pyongyang's ballistic missile capabilities.

Skirting the issue of whether Pyongyang tested a rocket or a missile, the UNSC statement demanded that North Korea "not conduct any further launch." It also calls for rapidly resuming efforts to achieve "the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula" within the framework of the Six-Party Talks, which have been suspended since December. The talks aim to eliminate the DPRK's nuclear weapons program while facilitating its reintegration into the international community. The statement also urges all U.N. members to "comply fully" with existing sanctions against the people and institutions involved in the DPRK's missile and nuclear weapons programs.

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