Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1874 on North Korea

Special Briefing
Philip S. Goldberg
Coordinator for Implementation of UNSC Resolution 1874 
Washington, DC
August 13, 2009

MR. WOOD: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome. We have with us today Ambassador Phil Goldberg, who, as I think most of you know, is our coordinator for implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1874. Ambassador Goldberg is going to talk about current efforts with regard to implementation of that resolution. He’ll also brief you on his upcoming trip to the region. So without further ado, Ambassador Goldberg.

AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: Thanks, Robert. Good afternoon. I will be leading an interagency delegation next week to Asia to continue our efforts coordinating implementation of the UN Resolutions 1874 and 1718, which are aimed at North Korea’s nuclear, missile, and proliferation activities. I will be accompanied by representatives from the Treasury Department, the National Security Council, and the Department of Defense.

As some of you may know, we have previously visited China, Malaysia, Russia, and the UN, and held meetings here in Washington with the Europeans and with other countries. After her discussions at the ASEAN meetings last month, Secretary Clinton asked us to return to Asia to conduct additional discussions on implementation. On this trip, we’ll be going to Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, and Japan. Singapore and Thailand are key members of ASEAN. Thailand, at the moment, holds the presidency of the organization. And both countries are important maritime countries, as well as commercial and financial centers. Korea and Japan are key allies in Northeast Asia and members of the Six-Party Talks on North Korea.

In all of these countries, we’ll share thoughts, ideas, and our impressions on inspections of air, sea, and land cargo. We’ll review the financial provisions of the resolutions, and we’ll share information when possible on specific cases.

We’ve agreed on a follow-up trip to China with our Chinese colleagues. We’re still working on dates. It could happen as early as later this month.

Our overall goal in all of this is clear. We are working closely with allies and partners to do things: to achieve denuclearization of North Korea through irreversible steps; and to implement UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea. Our goals represent an integrated approach, and it’s an approach for which we have found great support among the five parties in the Six-Party Talks, the UN Security Council, the United Nations more generally, and regional organizations and fora.

So with that, if you have questions, I’d be pleased to try to answer.

MR. WOOD: Please identify yourselves before asking your questions, please.

QUESTION: Sure. Barry Schweid of Associated Press. I understand there have been talks with banks and financial institutions. Could you give us an idea, as fully as you can, how these talks are proceeding? Is there implementation? Are you – are they – is it a successful effort?

AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: Let me give you an idea of what we’ve done and what others are doing. At the very beginning, after the passage of the Resolution 1874, we sent an additional advisory to American banks about their dealings with North Korean entities. This put up a warning signal to banks about those activities. We are looking for activities, according to the resolution, that deal with North Korea’s nuclear, missile, and proliferation activities, but it is a general effort – a warning sign to look at transactions having to do with North Korea.

When we visited other countries, they’ve been very interested in those advisories. They have sent advisories around to their banks. After we went to Russia, I saw a Russian press item saying that their banking association had done something similar, using some of our warnings to our banks, to do this. So it’s that sort of information sharing and how we’re doing things.

As for the way it’s working, the way it’s working is for banks to look at transactions when there is a sign that this may have to do with one of the designated entities – at the United Nations, there was an additional designation of a North Korean entity made by the United States just this week – and to look at those transactions to make sure that they are directed towards licit economic activities and not towards these programs.

So yes, we think it’s having an effect. We think that the word is out to banks. We think that there is a heightened sense of scrutiny and, hopefully, transparency in these transactions.

QUESTION: This may sound a little like an inexperienced question. But if a bank or a financial institution is having illicit activity, does that not disqualify them from carrying on normal banking proceedings, as far as you’re concerned? I mean, is one sin enough to close the gates?

AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: Well, it would certainly be drawn to their attention. There would be some sort of – some sort of look, investigation into what was going on. Let me give you an example from this – it’s a North Korean bank, the one that was designated this week, Kwangson Bank. The information was that they were having dealings with entities already designated at the United Nations, entities known to be in the business of military supplies and so forth. And so that’s the kind of activity that people will be looking for.

The resolutions are not aimed at punishing the North Korean people, and these are not aimed at the humanitarian efforts underway, and which we support. It’s in order to look for and to give heightened scrutiny to any transaction that may be coming through with a North Korean label on it.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Hi. Elise Labott with CNN. Thanks for doing this.

I have a couple of questions. First of all, when you say that it’s having a significant impact, I mean, how much can you ultimately – I mean, what are the vulnerabilities of the regime at this point that you could squeeze them to the point where you have your, you know, kind of best-case scenario effect that it brings them back to the table? I mean, how much more squeezing really is there to do of this completely isolated regime? And how much do sanctions – do you think is it more of a kind of psychology with them that the sanctions won’t have an effect?

And then the second question is, I’m just thinking back to, like, DBA and the whole idea that you wanted to take these measures, but then when it – and it seemed kind of counter-productive, you kind of backtracked on those measures. And I mean, what is the steel of this Administration to kind of stick with these measures no matter how tough it gets?

AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: The – on the second question, the resolutions are the resolutions, and they remain in effect until those kinds of irreversible steps are taken to deal with the denuclearization issue and the missile proliferation and all of the issues dealt with in the resolutions.

There are two reasons that these resolutions can be effective. One is that they are – that there is a unity of view and purpose among the five parties – certainly among the Security Council, which passed the most recent resolution – and in international fora in the way that the resolutions have been supported, both for nonproliferation reasons and other reasons. And so you have that effort to continue with cooperation, coordination within those groups, in the Security Council, in the five-party process, and to keep sending the same message to North Korea that there is a path open to North Korea through the Six-Party Talks, through a process of denuclearization, a process that they have already committed themselves to.

And then the second part is in impeding as best we can the programs underway, if that’s the path on which they continue. And that involves inspections of cargo and it involves the financial side. So it really has two purposes: one is part of our overall effort to get North Korea back to a process of denuclearization and nonproliferation; and to impede, in the meantime, as best we can those efforts.

QUESTION: I just have a quick follow-up. I’m not saying necessarily, like, we know the purpose, but in terms of the effectiveness, I mean, how effective can they be if this regime is, like, totally isolated? Is the involvement of China now and their willingness to kind of play along with these sanctions, is that what’s key here?

AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: Right. Yeah, well, that was the point in the first part of what I was saying, which is that by having a unity of view and purpose and the idea that there is a joint approach here, that yes, this is a – this is a new situation and that there is a clear path for North Korea if they want to rejoin that process. Otherwise, these measures continue, and they continue until there are those irreversible steps.

QUESTION: Kim Ghattas from the BBC. Just to follow up on that as well, are you able to tell already how much more difficult you are making life for North Koreans when it comes to their weapons program? I mean, what tangible impact is it already having, if any, and if you are able to tell?

AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: I think it’s still early. The resolution was passed about two months ago, and we’re still in the process of implementation. That being said, there are a couple of examples, the most public of which was the Kang Nam 1 incident, where a North Korean ship was coming down towards Southeast Asia and eventually turned around. It was after quite a bit of diplomatic activity, after a lot of consultation. So I think it’s had an effect. That, as I say, is the most public of the incidents.

But it’s going to take time for this to all work, and we’re committed to a steady process of using this as one route while still offering a greater conversation about returning to those irreversible steps on denuclearization.

QUESTION: Paul Richter, Reuters News Agency. There was some consternation and concern last week when former President Clinton when to Pyongyang to rescue those – to get those journalists released and came back, that that might – North Korea was showing – might show just enough interest in talks to, say, get the Chinese or the Russians to back off on the programs that you’re enforcing. Do you have any sense from the Chinese and the Russians, since you visited those capitals and you may again, that they’re still – they are with the program, or have you heard anything in that direction that – because would prove the skeptics right on that one, generally.

AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: I was in Moscow when the humanitarian mission was underway, and we had very good conversations with the Russians about implementation. And so no, I don’t see any change in that position either with Moscow or with China. Clearly, I allow them to speak for themselves on the issue, but we haven’t noted any sort of change in that position.

The approach, which is the sort of – the common approach at the moment has these two elements, which is offering a return to the talks, the Six-Party Talks, and a process of denuclearization and a return to previous commitments, and the implementation of the resolutions. And that’s something on which we’ve agreed.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) from Press Trust of India. Do you have any plans to visit India as part of your job in the near future? And secondly, do you have any observation on last week Indian Government detained a ship, North Korean ship in (inaudible), carrying 1,600 tons of sugar, as per the UN Security Council resolution. Have they informed you about it?

AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: As for a trip, not something that’s been decided at this point, but would leave open that possibility.

On the ship incident, there are several explanations for why the Indian Government acted and authorities and laws under which they might have acted. And I’d refer you to the Government of India to tell you why and under what authority they acted.

As I understand it, and we’ve gotten some of the facts in the case, a North Korean ship anchored in Indian territorial waters without notification, without permission. When it was approached, it didn’t answer. It was acting suspiciously. And the Indian Government then took action to bring it into port. The fact is that the Indian Government may have been acting under international law. It may have been acting under its own domestic law. So I would refer you to them about why they took those actions.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) You are doing the Six-Party Talks and not much concrete achievement ever made at Six-Party Talks ever since it start years ago. Do you still expect – do you still believe we can get something out of the Six-Party Talks?

AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: We hope so. We believe that it is the proper approach for dealing with denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula and that this multilateral approach is important. But ultimately, that’s a decision I think that may be taken by North Korea, whether they want to return to that process or they want to face isolation and the implementation of resolutions and the rest. But that is something that will have to be decided elsewhere, I think. But we remain committed to it. We believe that the process of coordination and continuing consultation is very important among the five parties, and that’s something we’ll continue to do.

When I was in Moscow last week, I guess it was, at the same time Ambassador Sung Kim, our Six-Party representative, was in Hawaii consulting with the South Korean Government. So our overall diplomatic process continues, and we want to make it work.

QUESTION: North Korea demanding the relations be normalized between U.S. and North Korea, that only North Korea want it between U.S. and North Korea direct talk (inaudible) Six-Party Talks.

AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: My particular mission is in the implementation of the resolution, but I will say that we have dealt with that question before. We believe in the Six-Party process. That does not exclude within the context bilateral exchanges as well.


QUESTION: Michael Valley with PBS. As you said, one of the main goals of your efforts is to get North Korea to reconsider their behavior and to get them to come back to serious discussions on the nuclear issue. Are you seeing any signs or any signals that the North Koreans are showing a willingness to return to the table since you’ve been at these efforts for a couple of months now?

AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: We haven’t been back at the table, so I think that’s your answer. But this is, as I also said, very early in the process in terms of the latest resolution. And also there are ongoing efforts within the five parties, and discussions, about getting back to discussions if possible. But the goal is irreversible denuclearization. It’s the end of the missile program and of proliferation activities. It’s not just to get back to talks. It’s also with that goal in mind.

QUESTION: As you said, you’re not back at the table yet. But the way North Korea works is there is always preliminary signals that they send. It’s never one day not, next day there. Have you received any signals whatsoever that they’re interested in returning to talks?

AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: In the multilateral format?

QUESTION: Yes, multilateral, bilateral.

AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: I want to be careful, but not to my knowledge at this point. But I’m not dealing with that on a daily basis.

QUESTION: You don’t think freeing the journalists is kind of a signal that they want to clear the air a little bit to –

AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: I don’t know. The visit that former President Clinton undertook was a humanitarian one.

QUESTION: On his part --


QUESTION: -- but on what – but, you know, there’s two parties there.

AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: No, I understand the question and I understand the point. I don’t know that anyone can fully divine what the North Korean motive may have been. If it is to get back to the Six-Party Talks, if it is to get back to a path of denuclearization, that’s great. We’d be for it.

QUESTION: You said – excuse me, a quick follow-up, if I may. You described your role, so your role may preclude answering this question, but I’ll bet you’re in on the conversations. Is there – are you discussing with other countries further measures? Is there, within the heads of people in the Administration, some tentative deadline, at least? They’re great at this type of stalling. We’ve – you’ve seen this for many years. Is there a point where you try something even tougher?

AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: At the moment, we’re just committed to these resolutions. There was a prior resolution, 1718. There was 1874. I was asked recently if, in fact – why the United States was adding additional sanctions. We haven’t. What we have done is to designate additional entities under U.S. law and executive orders. But at the moment, we’re concentrated only on implementing the current resolutions.

MR. WOOD: Let’s take two more. (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Asahi Shimbun. Could you elaborate a bit more about your detailed schedule, which day you’re going to be in which country?

AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: Why don’t we give that to you afterwards, if that’s okay.

QUESTION: Ben (inaudible) from the Yomiuri Shimbun. As far as this recent designation goes, can you talk a little bit more about the KKBC? I think it’s also called Kwangson Bank, and specifically about the Dandong branch that was mentioned in the press release, and what role this was playing in money transfers from Burma to China?

AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: I think that was added for informational purposes, in part, that there was this branch outside of North Korea. The release also mentioned the ties between the bank and the entities that have been designated at the United Nations. But some of this is sensitive information that I can’t go into more than that.

MR. WOOD: We can take one more quick one back here, then Ambassador Goldberg has to go.

QUESTION: Yonhap News Agency, South Korea. You are not visiting China this time. what does that mean? That means you are satisfied with the level of the cooperation from China in implementing UN sanctions?

AMBASSADOR GOLDBERG: Well, we – we’re – we have agreed with our Chinese colleagues that we will meet again. We’re just working on dates. But we’ve had extensive discussions with the Chinese, starting with our interagency trip. Well, starting with Deputy Secretary Steinberg’s trip. We then brought the interagency delegation there in early July. That was followed by Under Secretary of the Treasury Levey’s trip to talk to the central bank and
private banks. We had the six-party representative from China here. Then we had extensive discussions during the Economic and Strategic Dialogue. Secretary Clinton was very much involved in the issue at that point, at ASEAN. And since there was some scheduling issues, we decided to put off the next China visit for a few weeks. But we are in constant consultation with the Chinese about the resolution. And so we have been cooperating very well.

QUESTION: Thank you.


QUESTION: Thank you very much.

PRN: 2009/824