Friday, June 12, 2009

Tough enough?

UN Security Council imposes tough new sanctions on NKorea

So says the AP.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council has approved tough new sanctions against North Korea for its recent nuclear test.

The resolution imposes new sanctions on the reclusive communist nation's weapons exports and financial dealings, and allows inspections of suspect cargo in ports and on the high seas.

U.S. deputy ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo said Friday's vote was a strong and united international response to North Korea's unacceptable behavior.

Was it really? The Asia Times (a little closer to the action) begs to differ.

WASHINGTON - The United Nations Security Council's draft resolution on North Korea's second underground nuclear test amounts to a slap on the wrist that's likely to have minimal impact after an initial burst of rhetoric and headlines.

That's the impression given by an exercise in diplomatic sleight of hand that's gotten the reluctant Chinese and Russians to go along with a draft that condemns the nuclear test of May 25 "in the strongest terms" and demands the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) "not conduct any further nuclear test" or launch more ballistic missiles.

The resolution goes on with equally unenforceable demands for the DPRK to "suspend all activities" related to ballistic missiles, to "comply fully" with the previous resolutions demanding the same thing after its first nuclear test in October 2006, and to "abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner".

So where's the beef?

The answer, in the hopeful view of the US diplomats responsible for fashioning the resolution, lies in calls lower down for "all states" to inspect suspicious cargo in their territory and even to stop vessels "on the high seas" if they're believed to be carrying nuclear materiel or components - or the missiles for firing them to distant targets.

For all such lingo, the resolution waffles on doing anything to stop North Korea from carrying on as a newly minted member of the global nuclear elite. China insisted on language that would make any real action voluntary - and was responsible for the qualifying the call for inspections by saying they are to go on "with the consent of the flag state".

In other words, more like tofu. This pretty much reflects the brief remarks I heard John Bolton make this morning in an interview on Fox News. In our new world order, aggression and intransigence are increasingly being met with timidity and appeasement.

Speaking of which, Iran had an election today. Here's a shock.

Dispute emerges over winner of Iran election

Ahmadinejad and Mousavi are both claiming victory. Ultimately, it doesn't much matter. New boss, old boss, neither's one's the real boss. But I agree with Meryl.

Iran will not change. The only difference, if Mousavi wins, is that he will be more politic in what he says to the world, while advancing the same goals as his predecessor. He has criticized Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial not because it’s wrong, but because it brings bad publicity for Iran. He has stated that he will not stop Iran’s nuclear program, either. He has criticized Ahmadinejad’s economic policies, but so what? That doesn’t affect Iran’s attitudes towards Israel (which will remain unchanged if Mousavi is elected).

I want Ahmadinejad to pull out this election. Because if he loses, the world will give Mousavi ovations and flowers, all the while ignoring that he will be doing exactly what his predecessor was doing—only with more outward finesse.

Similar sentiments by Daniel Pipes, here. And yet more here ("Mousavi bad for Israel") from the director of the Ezri Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at the University of Haifa.

Finally, my sincere condolences to the family of Stephen Tyrone Johns. May his murderer burn in a thousand hells, preferably sooner rather than later. And here's a gratuitous link to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. A worthy institution for our support, now more than ever.

Shabbat Shalom.