The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to boost sanctions against North Korea for its third nuclear test Feb. 12. Pyongyang threatened a pre-emptive strike on the United States with a nuclear weapon.
Friday, North Korea announced that it was canceling a hotline and a nonaggression pact with South Korea.
After the vote Thursday, China's U.N. ambassador, Li Baodong, said his nation wants to see "full implementation" of the sanctions.
"The top priority now is to defuse the tensions ... bring the situation back on the track of diplomacy, on negotiations," Li said.
But Bruce Klingner, former deputy chief for Korea in the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence under President Clinton, said China is part of he problem.
"In the past, China agreed to resolutions but didn't enforce them in China," said Klingner, now a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
Klingner says China has recently been more vocal publicly about its displeasure with North Korea's recent missile and nuclear tests. Even so, Beijing has refused to help enforce previous sanctions it signed off on, he said. Klingner says he does not see the new sanctions as being enforced any differently.
The U.N. resolution Thursday authorizes countries to:
- Inspect any North Korean vessel or airplane, and to deny landing or port rights if the North refuses to allow it.
- Ban exports of expensive jewelry, yachts, luxury automobiles and racing cars to the North.
- Freeze financial transactions or services that could contribute to North Korea's nuclear or missile programs.
- Bans financial support for trade deals, such as granting export credits, if the assistance could aid the North's nuclear or missile programs.
"Taken together, these sanctions will bite - and bite hard," U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said.
The new sanctions resolution is the fourth against North Korea since its first nuclear test in 2006. Many of the entities that provide North Korea with aid are in China, and that is why it is not likely to work, says John Bolton, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under then-president George W. Bush.
"There's no reason to think they're going to do anything different than they've done before," Bolton said. "I call this a marginal increase in sanctions."
Other analysts believe the change in Chinese rhetoric toward North Korea signals promise that Beijing will try to prevent Pyongyang from getting a nuclear bomb.
North Korea launched a satellite into space in December, which the international community viewed as a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Last month, Pyongyang detonated a nuclear bomb. China's criticism shifted then from calling North Korea's actions "not helpful" to actual condemnation, said George Lopez, a nuclear proliferation expert at Notre Dame University who served on a U.N. panel that monitored sanctions on North Korea.
The new sanctions are unlikely to stop North Korea from staging another nuclear test or two, but hurt its weapons program in the medium to long term, Lopez said.
"The fact this resolution has so many multiple prongs and assertions and stipulations is a very clear message to the North that the Chinese are serious," Lopez said.
Bolton said Chinese leaders do not appear to want North Korea to develop a nuclear bomb.
"The problem is they haven't done anything about it and haven't for past 10 years," Bolton said. "They haven't put any pressure on North Korea, which they are in a unique position to do."
Klingner said China is afraid that pressuring North Korea will cause a crisis on its border, such as a regime collapse that would lead to civil war or the unification with U.S. ally South Korea.
But the lack of firm Chinese action will also result in U.S., Japanese and South Korean responses "that are not in Beijing's interests," such as increased military exercises, and deployments of more effective weapons in Japan and South Korea, Klingner said.