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At UN Council, North Korean Launch Ends in Whimper, Not Bang, Media Decamps

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

UNITED NATIONS, April 13, updated -- With a whimper and not a bang, the UN Security Council is slated to unanimously adopt a presidential statement Monday at 3 about North Korea's "launch" eight days ago, saying it "contravened" -- not that it "violated" -- the Council's 2006 resolution. Over the weekend, Inner City Press put the draft statement online, here. Monday at noon, the spokesman for the Mexican presidency of the Council said no objections had been received by the deadline, thus putting to bed a rumor that Libya might object.

  With most of the Japanese press corps having decamped -- click here for an riff about the crews from Tokyo, denounced a "reptile media" by North Korean diplomats -- we are left with the embers of fights fought and misleading Mission statements. Associated Press, for example, has denounced France's Mission to the UN for apparently deceiving it about what Ambassador Ripert said, click here for the AP correction. There has been some push-back to Inner City Press' review of the communications strategies of France, the UK and other Council members, here.

Penultimate DPRK stakeout, reptile media half-shown

 Left unanalyzed in the hoopla about the agreed-to presidential statement is that the underlying sanctions imposed in 2006 are still unlikely to be enforced. Will South Korea actually stop and search ships on their way to North Korea? It is unlikely. Kim Jong-il has won, those trying to flee the country are in worse off state than ever. And so it goes at the UN. If anything transpires, we will live-blog the Council session, below on this page.

Update of 3:11 p.m. -- the Presidency's spokesman has told the Press that there will be no statements by member states in the Chamber, just the read-out by Ambassador Heller, who will then speak at the stakeout. There's grumbling: can the Council expand a sanctions list by a non-binding statement? Duplicitous compromise is a phrase that's used.

Update of 3:59 p.m. -- in a series of back to back stakeouts with the press, the ambassadors of Mexico, the US, China, Japan, Russia, the UK and Turkey all sung the praises of the presidential statement. (Inner City Press asked the one non-DPRK question, to Mexico about Sri Lanka, to be reported later today).

President Heller called the text a positive compromise. Ambassador Susan Rice said that the US views presidential statements, “broadly speaking, as binding” -- a position apparently not shared by the US “plant” in UNAMA, Peter Galbraith, who has told Congress in writing that even resolution, if under chapter 6 rather than 7 of the UN charter, don't have to be complained with. Inner City Press' attempt to ask about the two American journalists DPRK is holding did not result in a response.

Ambassador Takasu put the best face he could on things, saying that at least it was unanimous. (This perhaps implied it was better than a “binding” resolution if even one country, like Libya, has abstained.) Inner City Press and another asked how many companies or entities Japan's wants to be sanctioned. More than three, was the answer.

UK Ambassador Sawers acknowledged that the statement did not impose new sanctions. The Ambassador of China made a statement but took no questions. As he left, he was asked if China will search ships. Russia's Vitaly Churkin took that questions, and said all countries must comply. The Ambassador of Turkey, which chairs the sanctions committee, said the process will start, he is new to it. Then the media decamped and things went back to normal.

  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.

* * *

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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