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UN’s North Korea Sanctions Include Kevlar, Staged by US Amid Free Lunch Accusations

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UN’s North Korea Sanctions Include Kevlar, Staged by US Amid Free Lunch Accusations

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee at the UN: News Muse

UNITED NATIONS, July 16 — Four days after what was said to be its deadline, the UN’s North Korea Sanctions Committee on July 16 imposed asset freezes on five companies and five individuals, and prohibited providing North Korea with certain graphite products and, strangely, Kevlar. This last is usually associated with bullet proof vests.

Inner City Press asked the Charge d’Affaires of the Republic of Turkey Mr. Fazli Corman, the Acting Chairman of the Sanctions Committee, why Kevlar was on the list. He said it was too technical to answer. Later, Googling, some connections were found.

The star of the stakeout was Japanese Ambassador Yukio Takasu, who called it a historic day. Inner City Press asked if there had been any discussion of taking action on banks which might enable North Korea’s arms trade or program, such as the bank in Malaysia regarding which the U.S. reportedly recently contacted Kuala Lumpur. Takasu replied that all banks — “not only in Malaysia” — have a duty of not assisting Pyongyang’s programs.

Several journalists asked Takasu about the Kang Nam 1 ship which left North Korea, reportedly for Myanmar, then turned back. One reporter yelled, what was on it? I am not comfortable discussing that in public, Takasu answered. Undeterred, Inner City Press asked if Takasu thought or knew it was heading for Myanmar. Takasu did not answer.


Japan’s Takasu at a stakeout, with US flag but not speaker

While the Committee met in the UN’s basement, this Q & A took place upstairs before UN TV camera, in the second floor stakeout in front of the Security Council. Earlier on Thursday, after an ill-attended stakeout by Stephen Rapp, current Special Court for Sierra Leone Prosecutor now nominated for the U.S.’s top war crimes post, a representative of the US Mission to the UN asked UN TV to not take apart its camera, to stay waiting “for an hour.”

More than an hour later, the Turkish and Japanese Ambassadors came up to talk, along with at least two US Mission staffers. No one spoke for the US, however. Some wonder if the Obama Administration, eager for dialogue, does not want to be too closely associated, at least on camera, with the the imposition of sanctions. On the other hand, Japan is clearly the most threatened — except South Korea….

Footnote: in full disclosure, just as the Sanctions Committee meeting was getting out in the UN basement at 1:15 p.m., a meeting began on “applying sustainable development to arms-transfer decisions,” complete with free sandwiches.

Several reporters including this one picked up one of the free sandwiches — roasted red pepper on thick black bread — but did not attend the arms control event, rather followed Takasu up to the second floor stake out. One US Mission staffer called this “ghetto,” and vowed to blog about it. To echo George W. Bush and Pyongyang, on peppers but not Kevlar: bring it on.

As Security Council Meets on N. Korea, Malay Bank, Ban and Kang Nam 1 in UN Penumbra

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

UNITED NATIONS, July 6, updated — As the UN Security Council mechanically convened days after North Korea fired seven missiles into the Sea of Japan, the mystery grew around the Kang Nam 1 ship with its reputed cargo of weapons for Myanmar, and the unnamed Malaysian bank reportedly pegged to process Burmese payments.

The place of a middleman between the regimes in North Korea and Myanmar is called by some the vortex of evil. Others apparently call it good business.

Reports — and photos — emerged Monday of tunnels in Myanmar designed by North Korean advisers. DVB reports that

“five Burmese companies – Htoo Trading, Kambawza, Asia World, Aden and Shwe Thanlwin – are known however to have provided machinery for the digging of the tunnels… A secret visit by General Thura Shwe Mann, the Burmese regime’s third-in-command, along with 18 other high ranking military officials to North Korea in November 2008, is another indicator of how the two countries have been cooperating. During the visit, Shwe Mann and North Korean Army Chief General Kim Gyok-sik signed an Memorandum of Understanding on further cooperation plans. The Burmese delegation also visited an underground military hardware factory near Pyongyang.”

But it is Pyongyang’s threats to Japan and Seoul which trigger UN action. Myanmar gets a free pass.

In front of the Security Council late Monday afternoon, Japanese media converged as they did after the last launch by Pyongyang. South Korea’s Ambassador came and said they expect the Council to react. Inner City Press asked a Council diplomat when Ban Ki-moon’s envoy to Myanmar Ibrahim Gambari is slated to brief the so-called Group of Friends on Myanmar.

This is what Ban said when empty handed he left Myanmar: that Gambari would return to New York and brief the Friends while he traveled on to Geneva — click here for Inner City Press’ UNCTAD story — Ireland and then the G-8 meeting in Italy.


N. Korea’s Kang Nam 1, returning home in Ban’s penumbra?

The diplomat said Ban would have been expected to do the briefing himself, but perhaps with so little accomplished, Gambari would have to do.

A strange theory justifying Ban’s apparently fruitless trip to Myanmar began to circulate in the UN on Monday: that it was due to Ban’s presence that the Kang Nam 1 did not dock in Myanmar. Since Ban has already claimed on the Charlie Rose television program that he saved 500,000 people in Myanmar, taking credit for the Kang Nam 1’s return to North Korea may not be far off.

While the Malaysian bank at issue has so far gone unnamed, one wonders if the UN committee set to finger companies for sanctions this coming Friday might not name the Malay bank. Watch this space.

Update of 5:40 p.m. — the Council has “suspended” its consultations on North Korea until 6 p.m..

Update of 6:06 p.m. — a Council diplomat tells the Press that whatever will happen today will happen soon. The crowd of mostly Japanese media expresses a collective desire to leave.

Update of 7:05 p.m. — First, the Chinese delegation strode out, telling the Press, the President will have a statement for you. Then the U.S. squad, with Susan Rice, Alejandro Wolff and at least two bodyguards, came out, the bodyguards between Ms. Rice and the press. Finally the Ugandan Ambassador, Council president for July, emerged and read out what he called an “oral statement,” that the Council condemns the missiles, finding them a violation of resolutions. He was followed by Japan’s Ambassador Yukio Takasu, who called the “oral statement” — less even than a formal Press Statement, which in turn is less than a Presidential Statement which is less than a resolution — “clear and strong.”

Inner City Press asked Amb. Takasu to comment on the Kang Nam ship. Takasu said that Japan had spoken with other neighboring countries about their duty to search such North Korea ships if they came to port. Inner City Press asked, did Japan speak to Myanmar, and what does Japan think of Ban Ki-moon’s recent two day trip to Myanmar: success or failure?

Takasu said Japan spoke “bilaterally” to countries in Asia “but not necessarily to Myanmar.” He said it was too early to judge Ban’s trip, she spoke with Ban and Gambari “during” the trip and would be briefed upon Ban’s return to New York. He called the current outcome of the Kang Nam trip a demonstration of the value of UN resolutions. But the Ugandan Ambassador told Inner City Press that the Kang Nam didn’t even come up during the consultations, and another Council diplomat confirmed this. Go figure. Watch this site.

* * *

To read more – http://www.innercitypress.com/unsc1may7dprk071609.html

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

July 17, 2009 at 1:42 pm

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