China (Nearly) On Board with Sanctions for North Korea

China has agreed that North Korea must be punished for testing a nuclear bomb earlier this week, but they won’t go as far as a U.S and Japan suggested plan.

Why? Well, because it would hurt Pyongyang too much.

Boo fricken hoo.

China, which reacted to Monday’s blast with a strong condemnation but considers North Korea a useful buffer against U.S. forces stationed in South Korea, said it envisioned only a limited package of sanctions – not what the United States and especially Japan were demanding.

China and Russia object to plans to interdict shipments and block financial transactions. They also oppose a new suggestion that Japan proposed Tuesday – to include mention of the North’s abduction of Japanese citizens in the 1970s and ’80s.

“We certainly understand that Japan is close to the country. But I think you cannot ask by this resolution to kill a country,” China’s U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya told The Associated Press. He said the Security Council must impose “punitive actions” but that they have to “be appropriate.”

Though far less than what the Americans and Japanese seek, even calling for some punishment was significant for China, which usually opposes sanctions, particularly against an ally such as North Korea.

The Bush administration asked the U.N. Security Council to impose a partial trade embargo including strict limits on Korea’s profitable weapons exports and freezing of related financial assets. All imports would be inspected too, to filter out materials that could be made into nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

The United States reiterated that it would not talk with the North Koreans one-on-one, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice assured the North that the U.S. would not attack. 

Why the assurances? Why not keep the threat out there? Isn’t that the only thing Pyongyang fears? They obviously don’t worry about being starved to death, since they’re already doing that to their people today.

As I’ve said before, our reaction to North Korea is writing the playbook for Iran. They’re watching, with interest.

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