UN set for vote over N Korea test

Security Council considers tougher sanctions as tensions continue to rise on the peninsula.

    North Korea's last nuclear test defied a previous Security Council resolution on the issue [EPA]

    North Korea's nuclear test last month defied a Security Council resolution adopted after the North's first underground nuclear test in October 2006.

    Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, has said the resolution will send the message that North Korea's behaviour is "unacceptable" and that the country "must pay a price, return without conditions to a process of negotiation and that the consequences they will face are significant."

    UN resolution vote

    Al Jazeera's Tony Cheng, reporting from North Korea's neighbour, China, said Pyongyang had been issuing hostile rhetoric, saying it would attack aggressively and offensively if further sanctions were imposed on the country.

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    He said that China in particular is wary of cracking down on a country that is already impoverished and isolated, fearing that economic sanctions could worsen conditions for North Koreans and cause hundreds of thousands of refugees to pour into China.

    However, the US special envoy on North Korea said on Thursday that the Washington is determined to make sure that Pyongyang faced serious consequences for its growing missile and nuclear threat.

    "The United States and our allies and partners in the region will need to take the necessary steps to assure our security in the face of this growing threat," Stephen Bosworth told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    But he also said Washington is committed to diplomacy and that Barack Obama, the US president, who seeks the North's "verifiable denuclearisation", wants to talk to Pyongyang, either through six-party talks or directly.

    North Korea has so far spurned the administration's attempts at engagement, Bosworth said.

    Saying he believed that the North would come back to disarmament talks eventually, but not soon, Bosworth said that for now, North Korea would "suffer consequences if it does not reverse course".

    "[But] in the interest of all concerned, we very much hope that North Korea will choose the path of diplomacy rather than confrontation," he said.

    Bosworth also said the US has no hostility towards North Korea - as Pyongyang frequently charges in defence of its nuclear programme.

    "As we have stated repeatedly, the United States has no hostile intent toward the people of North Korea nor are we threatening to change the North Korean regime through force."

    Rent demand

    As the diplomatic wrangling continues, tensions on the Korean peninsula continue to rise.

    North Korea has demanded a 3,000 per cent increase in rent and a 400 per cent increase in wages for 40,000 workers employed by South Korean companies at an industrial park in the North Korean border town of Kaesong.

    The demands were made during talks between the two sides at Kaesong, an official said, threatening the biggest symbol of reconciliation between the two Koreas.

    North Korean state media issued a statement on Thursday saying that relations between the two countries had reached the "phase of catastrophe" and that the Kaesong complex had been "thrown into a serious crisis".

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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