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As N. Korea Resolution Passes, No Force on Ships, AK-47s In, U.S. Does Not Speak at UN, Georgia (and DC) In Mind

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, June 12 -- After twenty days of talking about nuclear North Korea, the UN Security Council on Friday adopted a sanctions resolution. Afterwards, China's Ambassador emerged to say that for cargo inspections, there should be no use of force, not even the threat of use of force. Inner City Press asked Japan's Ambassador Takasu, who was bragging how strong the resolution is, if what China said is true. Video here.

   In a lengthy answer, Amb. Takasu argued that the resolution calls for suspicious ships to go to the nearest port. And if they don't? Then they get reported to the Security Council's committee on North Korea sanctions. It is reminiscent of a scene in the spoof film Team America, in which Hans Blix is asked by Kim Jong Il what Blix will do if North Korea does not comply. We will write another letter to you, Blix answers before being thrown to the sharks.

  Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert why he had voted for a resolution which explicitly allowed continued sales of small arms and light weapons to North Korea. From France's transcript:

Inner City Press: The resolution allows for sale of small arms and weapons to North Korea, there is an exclusion to allow that sale. Why is it in there and does France favor that ?

Amb. Ripert: for light arms, some categories of arms. It was requested by some member states saying that what we want to achieve is not to have a full embargo against the country of North Korea, what we want to achieve is to cut the links that North Korea has to get some resources to fund its programs and its by exporting arms that they get some funding. So the important part of the reasoning was to stop the export of all those arms to cut their resources and their funding.

UN Council meets on DPRK, some PRs not present

Inner City Press: Is there any discussion about the two journalists which have been arrested and now condemned to 12 years of hard labour ? What does France think of that ?

Amb. Ripert: there were discussions all over the place at the United Nations but not in the Security Council. We were discussing the resolution. We of course strongly condemn the condemnation of those journalists.

  Inner City Press asked new UK Deputy Permanent Representative Philip John Parham if and why the UK supported allowing the sale of small arms and light weapons to North Korea. "We have have preferred a broader ban," he said, "but this is what has been agreed by the Council." Video here, from Minute 4:40. The UK reportedly held another briefing for select journalists; perhaps there they explained their vote for a specific exclusion to allow continued flow of SLAW.

    Inner City Press also asked Ripert about the state of negotiations on the Abkhazia resolution which would have to pass by Monday:

Inner City Press: About the Georgia consultations given President Sarkozy’s role in it. Is there a resolution ready for vote Monday and does France believe that it should say "Abkhazia, Georgia", or how is that going to be resolved, what is your thinking ?

Amb. Ripert: There are talks going on now, as you know we had to spend a lot of time on North Korea, unfortunately we started discussing Georgia a bit late. There are very serious talks now among the group of friends of Georgia and we will continue those talks probably today, this morning and we hope to be in a position to circulate the text as soon as possible with the aim of adopting a new regime before the expiration of the resolution on Monday night.

   Later the German mission specified that negotiations will continue over the weekend. Georgia's president has reportedly vowed to do all possible to get the word "Georgia" in the resolution. But Russia is holding most of the cards. We'll see.

Footnote: No U.S. representative came to the UN stakeout on Friday to talk about the resolution. The US Mission explained that Susan Rice was in Washington. Some questioned why the U.S. would have so little to say at the UN on this issue. Regardless of one's view, the fact is that France, Japan and the UK spoke and took questions, while China spoke but took no questions. The U.S. neither spoke at the stakeout nor took questions. It can further be noted that while UK Permanent Representative Sawers is away, his Deputy spoke and took questions. What does this all mean? Watch this site.

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At UN, N. Korea Test Reaction Veiled in Secrecy, P-5 Search for Leak

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, June 10, updated June 11 -- Seventeen days after North Korea conducted at least its second underground nuclear test, the UN Security Council is scheduled this morning to circulate a previously-leaked draft sanctions resolution. A belated reaction with belated demands for secrecy, it will finally be made public on a volutary basis. For that reason and those below, for now there was no need to have it published here until circulated - now here it it.

  North Korea has already denounced it, and it is unclear who, if anyone would actually search North Korea ships. Perhaps the U.S. will seize more of Kim Jong-Il's money, as it did in Banco Delta Asia. But it could have done that without action by the Council.

Early in the process, Inner City Press got and published a draft of the resolution, minus substantive operative paragraph eight. Credit was given; there was little push-back.

  Then on June 5 Inner City Press obtained the near-final draft, which had been circulated to the capitals of the Permanent Five member plus Japan and South Korea. Inner City Press put it online that Friday at noon, it went with credit to Japan, the AP, Times of London and Washington Post. The feedback, however, was not all positive.

   Several Ambassadors approached Inner City Press to complain. You have made things more difficult, they said in different ways. One, Rosemary DiCarlo of the U.S., was to her credit willing to explain why. Countries find it hard to back away from positions in a draft that goes online, she said. Another had said, just summarize it, don't put the text online. Ambassador DiCarlo said that it's easier to back away from a summary.

   France's Permanent Representative Jean-Maurice Ripert had an extraordinary reaction. He summoned "the French press," how ever defined, and insisted to them that the draft Inner City Press had put online had not, in fact, been circulated. This had been contradicted by others in the French mission, and by other diplomats. Still Ripert insisted it was true, according to multiple sources in attendance at his meetings.

   Ripert held yet another news event for only portions of the press corps on the eve of the North Korea meeting, this time about peacekeeping. He focused on the Congo, yet the topic of the UN Mission there, known by its French acronym MONUC, constructively working with indicted war criminal Jean-Bosco Ntaganda somehow did not come up. We'll have more on this.

   The U.S. mission took a different approach, grilling other Council members and even Secretariat staff trying to determine the source of the leak. To some, the approach seemed inconsistent with what Barack Obama has said, about transparency and openness to the press. Several journalists detailed to the UN during these past two weeks have expressed surprise at the press relations of the current U.S. mission. Perhaps a work in progress.

Secrecy at the stakeout, hunt for leak and promises of transparency not shown

   Tuesday at six o'clock, the Russian mission emailed out comments of Ambassador Churkin, that consensus is emerging. Then at nine a.m. Wednesday, a meeting was scheduled for two hours later. It will be live blogged here. Watch this space.

Update of 11:08 a.m. -- one by one, or rather each with separate entourage, they have entered. Susan Rice with security and spokesman; Vitaly Churkin, like China's Deputy Liu, with a jaunty step. China's Permanent Representative with a single political advisor and a smile.

  France's Ripert, who reported told some journalists to only expect a vote on Friday, stopped and said in French, hopefully "demain" (tomorrow).

Update of 1:20 p.m. -- the Office of the Spokesperson for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, true to form, held its noon briefing in direct conflict with the Ambassadors who spoke at the stakeout. Perhaps so that even fewer reporters would attend and ask questions at the Secretariat's briefing. There were only three, and none of the questions were answered. Afterwards, Russia's Vitaly Churkin was speaking at the stakeout. He was asked why the draft has not yet been "put into blue." Ripert, it was said, repeated his prediction of adoption tomorrow or Friday. Several Japanese reporters expressed relief, that their two week vigil of watching nothing happen appears finally at an end.

Update of 7:53 p.m. -- a vote on Thursday is said to be unlikely, by a non-permanent Security Council member, some of whom pushed back against not having been included in the process of the P-5 plus Two. As Swiss Ambassador Peter Maurer told the Press on Wednesday afternoon, on the record, why do countries work for four years to get a seat on the Council only to sit back and wait to be given the menu by the P-5?

Update of June 11, 11:19 a.m. -- A Russian diplomat tells the Press that there have been a number of amendments proposed, presumably by non P-5 members, and "they must be considered." Asked if a vote Friday is possible, he said, "I do not know... I have to ask my expert."

Update of 11: 26 a.m. -  Japan's Ambassador Takasu, more upbeat, said in Japanese to the press from that country (which in turn offered this translation to Inner City Press) that he is not aware of any opposition, but that he will of course listen to any opinion. Asked if there will be a vote Friday, he said he does not like to make predictions.

Update of 11 p.m. -- it has "gone blue," and a meeting scheduled for June 12 at 11 a.m., presumably to vote: watch this site.

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At UN, Near Final Draft on North Korea Leaked to Inner City Press, Arms Export Ban and Cargo Inspection Added

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press: Exclusive-Must Credit

UNITED NATIONS, June 5 -- Thirteen days after North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test, a near-final draft resolution emerged behind closed doors at the UN Security Council.

The six-page draft, a copy of which Inner City Press obtained and puts online here as a must-credit exclusive, has more than thirty operative paragraphs, compared to the mere 14 paragraphs of the three-page draft Inner City Press similarly obtained and published on May 28. (AP, Japanese and other media appropriately credited Inner City Press).

  This time, Inner City Press is told by its sources that the draft was circulated to the capitals of the Permanent Five Plus Two -- these last are Japan and South Korea -- with the deadline for comments on June 5 at 10 a.m. New York Time.

   The provision allowing North Korea to import light weapons, in Paragraph 10, is attributable to Russia, according to a well placed Inner City Press source who calls it the Kalishnikof or AK-47 clause.

   Beyond the cargo ban, other provisions are weaker than the proponents wanted. Paragraph 19, for example, merely calls on "member states and international financial and credit institutions not to enter into new commitments... except for humanitarian and developmental purposes." Paragraph 17 prohibits "bunkering services, such as provision of fuel or supplies" to vessels. Paragraph 22 calls for reports within 45 days.

At UN, media chases news of draft now published by Inner City Press

  While the draft resolution seems unlikely to change North Korea's course, it has been the subject of intense journalistic interest for nearly two weeks now at the UN in New York, particularly by Japanese media, who have remained camped out in front of the Security Council during meetings on Somalia, Bosnia and Tribunals and on June 5, Sudan and Sri Lanka.

  Non-permanent members of the Security Council complained to the Press that they were kept in the dark throughout the days of negotiation.

On the morning of June 5, Inner City Press obtained the draft resolution that, as a must-credit exclusive, it puts online here. Watch this site.

  Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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