North Korean Challenge to UN Security Council

North Korea's nuclear missile tests are challenging the UN Security Council's use of sanctions.

According to AFP (July 9, 2006), "Pyongyang, which is pushing for direct talks with Washington, has warned that adoption of UN sanctions would be seen as an 'act of war'.....As in other crises over Iran's nuclear program or Sudan's Darfur conflict, China and Russia, two veto-wielding members of the council, have made clear their distaste for punitive action to resolve sensitive diplomatic issues. The two countries are cool to any use of Chapter Seven of the UN charter which can authorize sanctions or even military action in cases of threats to international peace and security....In order to pass, a resolution needs the support of at least nine of the council's 15 members and no veto from any of the five permanent members: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. The push for an early vote appeared to be a bid to dare China to veto the text, but Western diplomats said they were hopeful Beijing would not do so....Beijing could also abstain, which would allow the resolution to stand but deprive it of much of its impact."

This is a test not only for China but also for the UN Security Council and its ability to use Chapter Seven to prevent threats of nuclear annihilation. Chapter 7 deals with "ACTION WITH RESPECT TO THREATS TO THE PEACE, BREACHES OF THE PEACE, AND ACTS OF AGGRESSION."

Critical are Articles 39, 40, 41 and 42:

Article 39
The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.

Article 40
In order to prevent an aggravation of the situation, the Security Council may, before making the recommendations or deciding upon the measures provided for in Article 39, call upon the parties concerned to comply with such provisional measures as it deems necessary or desirable. Such provisional measures shall be without prejudice to the rights, claims, or position of the parties concerned. The Security Council shall duly take account of failure to comply with such provisional measures.

Article 41
The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.

Article 42
Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.

Diplomatic efforts are also underway.