NK sanctions just a start: FM

By Ding Xuezhen Source:Global Times Published: 2016-3-4 0:53:01

Experts say success of UN resolution depends on US

China on Thursday said the latest raft of UN sanctions against Pyongyang is not an end in itself, as it urged relevant parties to return to the negotiation table after North Korea fired six short-range projectiles following the UN Security Council's decision.

Experts said whether the UN sanctions can halt North Korea's nuclear and missile programs depends not on China but on the US and South Korea.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said on Thursday that the sanctions were not an end in themselves, and only dialogue and negotiations can fundamentally solve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The sanctions should avoid affecting the lives of North Korea's population and its humanitarian needs as much as possible, said Hong, noting that is also an important part of the resolution.

Thursday's projectiles were launched from Wonsan, a major port on North Korea's east coast, at about 10 am and fell into the ocean, South Korean defense ministry spokesman Moon Sang-Kyun told media, Xinhua reported.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea later confirmed the launch of six projectiles, which flew 100 to 150 kilometers eastward, Xinhua reported.

The launch was reportedly conducted without any warning.

Need for compromise

The US and South Korea will conduct their annual joint military exercises from Monday until April, which Pyongyang has labeled "a dress rehearsal for northward invasion."

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are expected to rise as the US will mobilize its strategic assets in the drills, including a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, Xinhua reported.

"Such a move [North Korea's launching of projectiles] is Pyongyang's way of showing its dissatisfaction with the new UN resolution," Li Kaisheng, a research fellow at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times Thursday.

"It does not mean that North Korea has closed the door to negotiations," Li noted, adding that for North Korea, the best way to move out of the current difficult position is to return to the negotiation table.

"With the upcoming joint military drills between the US and South Korea, the firing of projectiles can be interpreted as a defensive action," Zheng Jiyong, director of the Center for Korean Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times Thursday.

The US and South Korea will only return to talks after seeing North Korea's substantial denuclearization move, while Pyongyang is concerned it will lose its bargaining chip if it dismantles its nuclear programs first, Zheng said.

"The nuclear issue is centered on conflicts between North Korea and the US-South Korea alliance," Cui Zhiying, director of the Korean Peninsula Research Center at Tongji University, told the Global Times, adding that China mainly plays the role of coordinator and bridge-builder.

With a truce agreement to end the 1950-53 Korean War, the two Koreas are at present technically at war.

In order to solve the nuclear issue in the peninsula, a peace mechanism should be established to replace the truce agreement to enhance mutual trust, Cui said.

Cui added "both sides need to make compromises" in the transition from the current armistice mechanism to a peace mechanism, under which a military confrontation in the Korean Peninsula could be eliminated and peace agreements reached.

"It is impossible to solve the issue all at once," Cui said, suggesting that the joint US-South Korea drills and the North Korean nuclear program be both suspended.

The 15-member Security Council passed three resolutions after North Korea conducted nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013, and another two against its missile tests.

However, all previous resolutions have failed to persuade Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear program.

Posted in: Diplomacy

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