Friday, 13 October 2006 00:40

US Goes For Sanctions Against North Korea

President Bush said yesterday that when it comes to North Korea's reported nuclear test, the U.S. "remains committed to diplomacy," but that it "reserves all options" to defend its friends and its interests in the region against the North Korean threat. Bush, at a news conference at the White House, called for stiff sanctions against North Korea. He said there needs to be a "clear message" to the North Korean government that its "actions won't be tolerated.” He also vowed increased military cooperation with allies, including bolstering ballistic missile defenses in the region and increased efforts to prevent Pyongyang from importing missile and nuclear technology.
The latest U.S. proposal for sanctions against North Korea, obtained by The Associated Press Wednesday night, would still require countries to freeze all assets related to North Korea's weapons and missile programs. But a call to freeze assets from other illicit activities such as "counterfeiting, money-laundering or narcotics" was dropped. So was a call to prevent "any abuses of the international financial system" that could contribute to the transfer or development of banned weapons. A previous U.S. draft called on all states to inspect of cargo to and from North Korea to ensure compliance with sanctions. The new draft would allow states to inspect cargo "as necessary." The news conference yesterday also addressed the situation in Iraq with the President commenting that these are "tough times" in Iraq, but that the stakes there "couldn't be higher." He was asked about a recent comment made by the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. John Warner, that Iraq was drifting "sideways" and that the U.S. should consider major changes if Baghdad doesn't get the violence under control within the next few months. "I appreciate Sen. Warner from going over there and taking a look," said Bush. "I completely agree." He went on to explain that the US is constantly changing their tactics as needed. In a renewed defense of his Iraq war policy, Bush told reporters that if the U.S. leaves Iraq before the Iraqis can defend their new democracy, terrorists would take control there and have a new "safe haven" to attack the U.S. He said, "If we were to leave before the job is done, the enemy's coming after us." With just four weeks before the midterm elections, Bush acknowledged that the war in Iraq is having a political impact. It is "tough on the American psyche," he said. However he said in terms of the election that the leading issue for voters should not be the war, but the economy, where he pointed to signs of significant improvement in job creation, lower energy prices and tax cuts that he said are working.