Yesterday, the Security Council approved this statement:
This was not a Security Council Resolution, but a “Presidential Statement.” The statement is not legally binding, but unlike a resolution it requires unanimity to pass.
All week long the Japanese were pressing for a sanctions resolution, while the Chinese sought to dampen the Security Council’s response. A Presidential Statement seemed like a reasonable compromise. However, even this comparatively tamer Security Council action has sent Pyongyang in a bit of a tizzy. This morning, Pyongyang announced it would boycott the Six Party Talks and consider reconstructing a light water reactor and resume reprocessing plutonium.
What’s next? Well, we know what does not work: ratcheting up the pressure while simultaneously refusing to engage in direct dialogue with DPRK. That was the modus operandi for much of the previous administration, during which Pyongyang massively expanded its nuclear weapons capability. So the alternative? Probably patient diplomacy that recognizes there will be fits and starts to progress on North Korean disarmament. DPRK, I’d say, is a big test for the Obama administration’s much vaunted “pragmatism.”