Philippines backs North Korea sanctions

Posted at 03/08/13 7:42 PM

MANILA - The Philippines is supporting tougher sanctions on North Korea following its February 12 nuclear weapons test, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Friday.

In a press statement, the DFA said it welcomes the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2094 (2013) and urged Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

"The Philippines urges the DPRK to act as a responsible member of the international community," it added.

The DFA also expressed concern over North Korea's threat that it is voiding all non-aggression agreements with neighboring South Korea.

The announcement raises tensions in the Korean Peninsula, threatening regional peace and stability, it added.

Philippine embassy officials in Seoul have been ordered to intensify efforts with Filipino community organizations to prepare contingency plans.

The UN Security Council on Thursday slapped tough new sanctions on North Korea amid escalating tensions as the isolated regime threatened a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States.

Washington said it was "fully capable" of defending itself against any North Korean attack as international powers rallied behind the fourth round of UN punishment of Pyongyang.

After an accord between US and Chinese negotiators, the 15-member Security Council unanimously added new names to the UN sanctions blacklist and tightened restrictions on North Korea's financial dealings, notably its suspect "bulk cash" transfers.

Ahead of the meeting, North Korea bitterly condemned South Korean-US military exercises and said its army would "exercise the right to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors."

North Korea now faces one of the toughest UN sanctions regimes ever imposed after nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and on February 12, as well as a long-range rocket launch in December.

The Security Council's Resolution 2094 threatened "further significant measures" if the North stages a new nuclear test or rocket launch.

The new sanctions will "bite hard," said US ambassador Susan Rice. "They increase North Korea's isolation and raise the cost to North Korea's leaders of defying the international community."

China wants "full implementation" of the resolution, said its UN envoy Li Baodong, while stressing that efforts must be made to bring North Korea back to negotiations and to defuse tensions.

Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin also called for "cool heads" to bring North Korea back to six-nation talks on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons drive.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, a former South Korean foreign minister, said the resolution sent an "unequivocal message" to North Korea that "the international community will not tolerate its pursuit of nuclear weapons."

The resolution expressed "gravest concern" over the February 12 test and adds three new individuals, a government science academy and trading company to the UN blacklist for a travel ban and assets freeze.

The resolution also called for "enhanced vigilance" over North Korean diplomats.

US officials suspect the North's diplomats have been carrying suitcases of cash to get around financial sanctions.

It said a ban on financial transactions linked to the North's weapons programs must include "bulk cash" transfers. - with a report from Agence France-Presse