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July 9, 2006
Can The US Get Sanctions On Pyongyang?

Nicholas Burns, the Undersecretary of State, told Meet The Press that the US has enough support on the Security Council to get sanctions applied to North Korea as long as China doesn't issue a veto. However, Lindsay Graham warned that the US would start consider modifying its relationship to Beijing if the Chinese don't start applying its leverage to rein in Kim Jong-Il:

The Bush administration on Sunday said it had the votes in the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions against North Korea's nuclear missile program and urged China to use its influence to get Pyongyang back to the negotiating table.

"We think we've got the votes to pass that," Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said on NBC's "Meet the Press" television program. ...

Burns said the United States did not have any assurances from China it would not use its veto of U.N. sanctions.

"I don't think we've heard the last word from China. I'm not sure the Chinese have figured out exactly what they're going to do. It may depend on what the Chinese hear in Pyongyang from the North Korean leadership," he said.

One U.S. lawmaker warned China that it could face cooler ties with the United States if it does not take a tougher stance on North Korea.

"The Chinese are the key to this," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican. "If they don't really come to the table harder with North Korea, they're going to be hanging by a thread in terms of international diplomatic policy."

Burns also expressed impatience with Beijing. Noting that the Chinese have finally sent a high-level delegation to Pyongyang to address the crisis, he told Fox News (in an interview which will air later today) that "it's time" for China to start putting a little muscle into the efforts to get Kim to de-escalate and start nuclear disarmament. The Bush administration has not expressed this level of frustration with China before, preferring to remain on friendly terms while China takes slow steps towards modernization and even market-based economic policies.

If Kim disappeared, we could probably afford to take the long view with China, which has the capacity to transform itself into a threat many orders of magnitude larger than anything Kim could achieve. Unfortunately, the North Korean nutcase keeps pushing the region from one crisis to another, all the while impoverishing his people to the extent that even China seems like a cornucopia by comparison. We cannot wait for China to figure out that state-controlled economies and single-party autocracies eventually fail in order to transform it into an ally of liberty and democracy. We need them to apply leverage now to avoid a war on the Korean peninsula.

How best to do that? Burns has the right idea, and Graham's support helps. We need to communicate our displeasure at the foot-dragging that Beijing has done so far, but in subtle diplomatic messages as Burns did today. If we can avoid public confrontation, Beijing will get the message. If they do not respond quickly (although it looks like they may already have), then we can again apply pressure both in Congress and through the State Department. Congress can start a review of China's trade status while the State Department continues talks with Japan on escalating their military reach. The Chinese will get the message rather quickly.

Oddly, Reuters never mentions the Russians. Apparently Burns has no worries about a Russian veto at the UNSC. It sounds like he has already taken care of that possibility.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 9, 2006 2:32 PM

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