UN Security Council issues strongly worded memo, Kim responds

The UN Security Council acted with unusual alacrity and unanimity to condemn North Korea’s underground nuclear test this weekend, threatening new sanctions … but not actually imposing any.  Kim Jong-Il took the measure of the UNSC and of global leadership, and responded with a barrage of short-range missile launches, testing his weaponry and rattling his saber:

North Korea, defiant in the face of international condemnation of its latest nuclear test, fired two more short-range missiles off its east coast on Tuesday and accused the United States of plotting against its government.

In a move certain to compound tensions in the region, South Korea said it would join a U.S.-led initiative to intercept ships suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction, something Pyongyang has warned it would consider a declaration of war.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted a government source in Seoul as saying the North had test-fired one surface-to-air and one surface-to-ship missile off its east coast. The missiles had a range of about 130 km (80 miles).

North Korea could also launch by Wednesday more short-range missiles, perhaps toward a disputed sea border with the South, South Korean media quoted government sources as saying.

Michelle referred to the UN resolution as “the comfy chair,” but it sounds more like a warning that they might fetch the comfy chair:

The U.N. Security Council swiftly condemned North Korea’s nuclear test on Monday as “a clear violation” of a 2006 resolution and said it will start work immediately on another one that could result in new sanctions against the reclusive nation. …

After a brief emergency meeting held at Japan’s request, the council demanded that North Korea abide by two previous resolutions, which among other things called for Pyongyang to abandon all nuclear weapons and return to six-party talks aimed at eliminating its nuclear program.

It also called on all other U.N. member states to abide by sanctions imposed on the North, including embargoes on arms and material that could be used in its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and ship searches for banned weapons.

If he already violated UNSC resolutions, shouldn’t they have had sanctions at the ready?  Why do they need to go back to decide whether to impose sanctions?

Kim apparently wasn’t terribly impressed with the UNSC warning about maybe, possibly, applying more sanctions to North Korea.  After watching China and Russia over the last few years on both his own situation and on Iran, why should he be?  And as long as the US continues to pursue the issue through the UN, then Kim knows he has no real concerns that any consequences of import will accrue from his actions.  He could do everything short of an attack on Seoul and get nothing more than a strongly worded memo.

Of course, Kim couldn’t have been terribly impressed with the response from the US, either.  Barack Obama issued a moderately tough statement after Pyongynag’s first successful nuclear test … and then went golfing for four hours.  If Obama signaled that such an event was so unimportant that it didn’t need to interrupt his golf game, what message did he think that would send to Kim?  Or, for that matter, to the rest of the tinpot dictators with nuclear ambitions, including the mullahs of Iran?