An emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council over soaring tensions in the Korean Peninsula ended inconclusive with the powerful 15-member group of the world body failing to arrive at a consensus.
A draft resolution, circulated by the Russian Federation, after more than eight hours of debate, was sent back to the Capitals of the 15-members of the Security Council. United States’ Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, who also heads the presidency of the Security Council for the month of December, said the “gap” between the member nations is unlikely to be bridged.
Ms. Rice said a major point of contention was the insistence of a number of countries including the United States for a strong condemnation of the recent “provocative” behaviour of North Korea. Some of the countries, believed to be Russia and China, were against any such inclusion in the proposed presidential statement of the Security Council.
“The majority of the Council members made clear their view that it was important for them to clearly condemn the attack by North Korea on Yeonpyeong, but that view did not ultimately achieve consensus and while we still are still awaiting firm clear instructions from every Capital, I think, it is safe to predict that the gaps that remain are unlikely to be bridged,” she said.
The U.S. has strongly condemned the recent “unprovoked aggression” of North Korea against the South, Ms. Rice said.
North Korea has warned of “catastrophe” if South Korea goes ahead with its military’s planned one—day, live—fire drills on the same front—line island the North shelled last month. The emergency meeting of the UN Security Council was called at the request of Russia, which insisted that South Korea should not go ahead with its plans.
Exercise in “self-defence”
US came out in support of South Korea arguing that it had the right to carry out exercise in self-defence.
“We outlined our position that it is important for two sides to act in a fashion that promotes peace and security and we believe that Republic of Korea has throughout exercised enormous restraint,” Ms. Rice said.
She said the planned exercises by South Korea are fully consistent with its legal rights to self-defence.
“It is being done and notified transparently, responsibly and would not occur in a fashion, we believe, gives North Korea any excuse to respond in a fashion it has threatened to do,” Ms. Rice told reporters after the meeting.
The Security Council, among other things, deliberated the call for the council for a presidential statement.
North Korea has no right to threaten to attack another member of the UN when that member of the UN is conducting purely routine defensive exercise, she said, adding the vast majority of the Security Council members believe that a presidential statement would not be productive if this was ambiguous in some fashion about what it transpired in the run up to today and simply to pretend that time began today.
Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said the idea of the Secretary General appointing an envoy did receive strong support from a number of members of the Security Council and hoped this idea could still be pursued.
“Now we have a situation of a very serious political tension and no game plan on the diplomatic side, because the six—party talks are not operative and various parties are saying that they are not prepared to return to the talks even in informal setting and there are no other diplomatic activities,” he told reporters outside the Security Council at the UN headquarters in New York.
“We believe that there must be an initiative and this initiative of the Secretary General appointing an envoy might be something which will set a political process and in turn which could resolve the current crisis situation through diplomatic and political means,” Mr. Churkin said.
He said the Russian delegation was trying to have compromise and produced two revisions of its original draft.
“We incorporated some language from the British proposal which was also put on the table, which emphasised the need for political dialogue.
“But unfortunately the diplomatic preferences of various countries were such that we were not successful in bridging all the gaps,” he said.
Mr. Churkin insisted that the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has good reasons to send a special envoy to the region even in the absence of a directive in this regard from the Security Council.
Keywords: Korean conflict