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On North Korean Missile, UN Council's Failure to Launch Called Cautious by China

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

UNITED NATIONS, April 5 -- The Security Council meeting on North Korea broke up Sunday evening with a whisp of a press statement, and a seemingly illusory promise of "constructive consultation" on getting a Council resolution to condemn North Korea's missile launch. The most telling on-camera comment came from China's Ambassador Zhang Yesui, who said that the Council's response must be "cautious and proportionate."

  Council sources tell Inner City Press that during the consultations, China said that a press statement, and nothing more, certainly not a resolution, would be the appropriate response to North Korea's launch. Inner City Press asked Council president Claude Heller of Mexico point blank to confirm that China said this. That's something to ask China, Ambassador Heller replied.

   China's reasoning emerged in background interviews with other diplomats. (Zhang Yesui refused all questions at the stakeout, his spokesman saying that he had to rush to meetings with the American mission.) Japan's Ambassador Yukio Takasu offered a summary of the past decade of North Korean launches and attempted launches, in 1998, 2006 and now. China is noting that in 1998, all the Council did was issue a press statement. So there is precedent for that approach, in their view. And that is all they need.

China's Ambassador at stakeout, urging "caution and proportionality"

  Others argue that this present launch violates 2006's Resolution 1918, which prohibited acts related to ballistic missile technology. But, the reply argument goes, if North Korea has a right to develop space, how else can they launch their satellites? And if Resolution 1718 was intended to have the effect of barring their development of space, it should have spelled that out.

  Inner City Press asked Ambassador Takasu if the issues of human rights or the Japanese abductees came up, and if China had indeed said a press statement is all that is appropriate. "That is not my position," Ambassador Takasu replied, leaning away from the microphone, leaving the questions of human rights and abductees unanswered. So too with U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice: she was already leaving the microphone as human rights as a question was posed by Inner City Press. There was no answer. But there may be answers to all this, later this week. Watch this site.

  Click here for a new YouTube 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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