Foreign Affairs

North Korea: Is the UN Up to the Task?

The North Korean test of a nuclear weapon requires President Bush to do more than just punt the issue to the UN Security Council.

The North Korean regime holds no fear of the UN Security Council, and has defied the United Nations again and again. North Korea has kicked out nuclear inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has withdrawn from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and it has most recently defied Security Council Resolution 1695 passed in July in response to its brazen test-firing of missiles.

The President must first determine if the North Korean nuclear test threatens the American people—and he has concluded that it does. North Korea has the ability to sell nuclear technology to terrorist organizations or anti-American regimes. The regime also poses a direct threat to U.S. allies in the region.

Because this affects the American public so directly, Bush should call the Congress of the United States back into session. Extensive consultations should be held with congressional leaders of both parties. If the United Nations opts to impose meaningful sanctions, that could very well include the use of the U.S. military to conduct inspections of shipments in and out of North Korea.

President Bush should immediately ask Congress for two things:

  1. A strong, bipartisan condemnation of North Korea’s nuclear test. Republicans and Democrats must come to together and speak with one voice and not allow Kim Jong-Il to take advantage of the election season in the United States.
  2. Immediate confirmation by the Senate of UN Ambassador John Bolton. Confirming Bolton as permanent representative to the United Nations will only strengthen his hand in the difficult negotiations that will take place in the days and weeks ahead. The time for partisan rancor and petty politics over Bolton’s nomination are over.

How the U.S. responds to the North Korea nuclear test will impact the response of the Iranian regime as well. Not only will a unified President and Congress be a stronger diplomatic card than a divided Security Council, but before the American people vote in November, they should see how their members of Congress respond to such international threats.


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