United Nations Supporters of a resolution that would impose limited sanctions on North Korea agreed to delay a vote in the hope that China can pressure Pyongyang to return to six-party talks on its nuclear program and halt missile tests, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said Monday.
Ambassadors from the five veto-wielding nations on the Security Council, who are divided over sanctions, met with Japan, which sponsored the resolution, as a Chinese delegation arrived in North Korea pledging friendship and deeper ties.
Bolton told reporters after the meeting that the resolution's supporters - including the U.S., Britain, France and other European council members - decided not to press for a vote Monday "while the diplomacy in Pyongyang proceeds."
"We think it's important to keep the focus on Pyongyang, which after all is the source of this problem, and to provide maximum support for, and leverage on the Chinese mission to Pyongyang," he said.
On July 5, North Korea test-fired seven missiles, apparently including a long-range one that potentially could reach the United States.
The United States wants North Korea to return to the moratorium on ballistic missile launches from the Korean peninsula and to not only return to the six-party talks but implement the joint statement agreed to by the six parties in September, Bolton said.
In that statement, North Korea made a commitment to abandon "all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning at an early date" to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The six parties - the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia - also reaffirmed that the goal of the talks "is the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner."
According to a Japanese news report, Japan and the United States suggested to China that a vote on the sanctions resolution could be avoided if North Korea renewed the moratorium on missile testing and returned to six-party talks.
Asked about the Kyodo News agency report, which cited unidentified Japanese officials, Bolton replied, "Well I think that's basically what I've stated somewhat differently. The point is, we want to keep the spotlight on Chinese diplomacy in Pyongyang, which is the source of this problem."
But when pressed, he refused to say whether the United States would agree to drop the sanctions resolution if North Korea returned to talks, agreed to implement the September agreement, and reimposed the moratorium. He said there were "a lot of ifs" and Washington wants to wait to see what comes out of the Chinese meetings in Pyongyang.