North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

No UNSC Movement on Cheonan

Photo: Yonhap

With China’s position unchanged, and the Russian investigation being finalized this week, the United Nations Security Council has yet to reach a decision about penalizing the DPRK for its role in the sinking of the ROK naval corvette Cheonan in March of this year.  It is starting to seem the most the ROK can hope to attain from the USNC  is “at least a  Chairman’s statement condemning the North’s provocation.”  Russia announced last week (1 July) that its own investigation “was finalizing a conclusive report” based in part on evidence shared by the ROK Government’s official investigation.

Chosun Ilbo reports:

But China, another permanent member, continues to block any term or phrase that would point directly to its ally North Korea as the culprit.

A diplomatic source on Monday said UNSC members feel under pressure to reach some kind of decision. No regulations stipulate that cases at the UNSC are dropped unless they are handled by a certain deadline, but if discussion is delayed indefinitely due to deadlock caused by China’s opposition, the Cheonan case could be put on the back burner indefinitely since the council has a heavy load of other cases.

Some government officials are talking about getting China to abstain from voting on a resolution, if it is realistically difficult to persuade all permanent members to adopt a chairman’s statement. China faces criticism that a veto would amount to tacit support of North Korea’s armed attack on the Cheonan.

A Foreign Ministry official said, “It’s true that the situation hasn’t turned out as we expected. But if we give the impression that we’re pressed for time it may put us at a disadvantage in negotiations.”

North Korea’s denials about the Cheonan have reached the country’s embassy in Laos.  In a recent meeting with a Laotian official DPRK Ambassador Han Bong Ho denied the country’s involvement.  It seems the DPRK Embassy requested the meeting, after ROK Ambassador to Laos, Lee Gun-tae, brief ed Laotian officials in June about the ROK’s multi-national investigation.

Ambassador Han Bong-ho dismissed the conclusions of a Seoul-led multinational probe that accused North Korea of the deadly sinking of the Cheonan, the Laotian official said.

“The South Koreans say we fired a torpedo, but they don’t know where the torpedo came from, or whether the torpedo has been there from before,” Han was quoted as saying, repeating his government’s demands that the two Koreans conduct a joint investigation on the incident.

Han probably meant to say that “if North Korea had intended to strike the Cheonan, then it would have fired not one torpedo but several,” the Laos official said.

And it seems DPRK diploreps are taking their angry denials to the WC.  At the 11 June World Cup Opening Ceremony,  DPRK Ambassador to South Africa, An Hui Jong, followed ROK Ambassador to South Africa, Kim Han-soo, into a bathroom remarking, “If (the South) keeps acting like this, we won’t let thing pass either.”

The June 11 encounter between the two envoys took place in a bathroom during the opening ceremony of the World Cup football finals at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, after South Africa invited foreign ambassadors to football’s premier event, according to the source.

“If (the South) keeps acting like this, we won’t just let things pass, either,” the North’s ambassador, An Hui-jong, told South Korea’s Ambassador Kim Han-soo while holding Kim by the arm after following him into the bathroom, according to the source who requested anonymity.

The North’s envoy “spoke in a threatening way,” the source said.

An affiliate of 38 North