22 in depth
For more on the resolution and North Korea's defiant response we are joined by Steven Herman, Seoul Bureau Chief of Voice of America, who has been covering issues on the Korean peninsula for many years.
Welcome to the program.Thank you. What did you make of the newly implemented UN resolution 2087? Do you think it is enough to punish the North for its rocket launch and effective to prevent it from carrying out further provocations?
Well skeptics would say we have had previous UN resolutions and they do not have appeared to have done much to deter North Korea.
However, this time around we did have China signing off on language condemning the launch, which is significant. There were behind the scenes negotiations for some weeks between Washington and Beijing on the language of this and both sides have apparently compromised and so we have additional sanctions against some new entities and individuals so it does move things along a little.. farther than we have before but I'm sure some would be dissatisfied feeling that this latest resolution still does not go far enough.
On a scale from 1 to a 100 out of the possible sanctions we can place on North Korea how much more is left?
Aren't additional sanctions of marginal use?
Well, I think that's a question you could put both to PyeongYang and Tehran which is also facing similar issues and we'll just have to see and the proof would be as to whether the sanctions appear to have any bite or to have any deterrence.
Again, we really don't know in the past, what impact it has had. North Korea went ahead with the latest launch in december and now apparently is poised to go ahead with another nuclear test, which also is something that they are not supposed to be doing.
Were you surprised by North Korea's defiant reaction to the UN resolution?
Absolutely not, I would have been very surprised if there had been some sort of conciliatory statement. But on the scale of North Korean rethoric, the North Korean foreign ministry reaction that came out today was not as bellicose as it could have been.
This was not a statement coming from the higher levels of the military, threatening some sort of military response but basically what they are declaring is the six party talks process dead, which has been defunct for a long time.
And saying that there really can not be any more progress toward denuclearlization and then hinting at the ability to go ahead with nuclear deterrence which would mean a third nuclear test.
Today's verdict was unanimously approved by member nations of the UN Security Council including China and Russia North Korean allies which have often vetoed sanctions on the North. That must have suprised Pyongyang at least a little bit.Even though China is North Korea's sole remaining ally, the two do not see eye to eye on everything and we know that there has been tensions, that there were chinese diplomats trying to prevent the North Koreans last year with going ahead with these missile launches and with nuclear test and so there has to be tremendoue frustration in Beijing with the attitudeof PyeongYang, because what China wants more than anything else is stability and these sort of actions potentially lead to greater instability.
Pyongyang ruled out any talks on denuclearising the Korean peninsula in a state broadcast. When can we expect another nuclear test?Well, we have intelligence reports being quoted in the media today saying it could happen within a few days.. We don't know.. When the rocket launch happened last month the intelligence reports that nothing was eminent and than we had the launches so I wouldn't bank on anything there obviously have been some preparations going on at the nuclear test sites for some time but most of the experts that we have been talking to do expects the nuclear test to happen whether that would be in days, weeks, or months.. we cannot say, but certainly most of the experts would expect something to happen this year in the earlier part rather than the latter part of the year.Right so the response that we have seen is to rocket that was a longer range and to quote "successful". But it sounds like a story that we have seen and read before. Do you think anybody is coming up with a new approach to negotiate with North Korea in order to nuclearize?Well,I think what's significant is North Korea has significantly.. upped the ante. as the South Korean Defense Ministry has said this week, they believe that North Korea now has the capability of deploying an ICBM with a range of ten thousand kilometers. Also with the next nuclear test is HU, Highly enriched uranium instead of plutonium, that is another advance, and than the ultimate concern is whether North Korea gets to the state of technology where it can miniturize a warhead, a nuclear warhead on top of one of these ICBMs. Obviously, everyone wants to prevent that from happening. But the big question is "How do you do it?" and obviously a military attack is not considered feasible at all, but on the other hand, engagement, six party talks, other avenues of diplomacy don't seem to deterring it either so these are very difficult situations for the diplomats not only in here in Seoul and in Washington but also in Beijing, Tokyo, Moscow and other countries as well.Thank you for your insights tonight.