Wednesday, November 24, 2010

North Korea becomes UN's 'problem from hell'

The UN Security Council is agonizing over how to answer North Korea's artillery attack on the rival South but has not even planned a meeting on the deadly assault.

The caution of the major powers is a sign of the lack of feasible answers to North Korea's decades of military outrages and nuclear brinksmanship, said diplomats and experts.
It is possible that the Security Council, the United Nations' guarantor of international peace, will take no action over Tuesday's attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, diplomats said.
"This is the problem from hell if you are a policymaker," commented Leon Sigal, a veteran analyst on the West's dealings with North Korea.
No country has asked for a special meeting of the Security Council over the North's missile attack in which two soldiers and two civilians were killed.
The permanent Security Council powers -- United States, China, Russia, Britain and France -- are in consultations at government level, officials said, stressing the caution with which all wanted to proceed.
"There really is no indication that something will happen," said one Security Council nation diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The council's response to North Korea's sinking of a South Korean warship in March still gives nightmares to many representatives. No meeting or statement was agreed until July -- nearly four months later.
The statement condemned the sinking of the ship, in which 46 South Korean navy crew died, but did not blame the North, which denies involvement.
"Everyone was shocked by the Cheonan affair," said another diplomat. "No one wants to throw their energy into a meeting for no reason. Everyone wants to wait.
"The Chinese are dragging their feet, it's true, but everyone wants to wait and think it out."
North Korea, one of the world's most isolated countries, already faces UNsanctions over its nuclear weapons programme. It has been accused of helping Iran with its nuclear drive and just shrugs off complaints about its human rights and bellicose attitude toward its neighbors.
The international powers "have the feeling they have fired all their bullets and they don't know what to do now with North Korea," the diplomat said.
One diplomat said it was "an option" that the council would take no action. "It could take weeks, maybe nothing will be done," added another.
The Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee is to meet on Monday and the attack could get a mention there. "But it can do nothing," said a diplomat.readmore


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