Saturday, August 29, 2009

UN resolution 1874, sanctions, North Korea, & the United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirate [UAE] has seized, the BBC announced, a ship carrying 10 containers of weapons and related items, including rocket launchers, grenades, and ammunition that the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea aka North Korea] was sending to the Islamic Republic of Iran.Unlike the Bush administration's seizure of Scud missiles destined for Yemen in 1992, the US government had to send the ship on its way to Aden. The reason is simple enough, under the Law of the Seas, president George Bush had no binding international right under law, to confiscate the missiles, since Yemen had bought the missiles and expected contractually their dockside delivery. The UAE was armed with UN resolution 1874, which gave it the right to seize through international authority the DPRK arms which Iran had duly paid for. Guam Diary has yet to discover under which flag the vessel was sailing, nor the exact spot at which the UAE authorities boarded it, assuming that it was in UAE territorial waters. And for that matter who alerted them that the ship had weapons and the like. The Emirates authority clothed in the provisions of UN resolution 1874, took appropriate steps. UAE is at that point in which can and does keep track of shipments to and from Iran. The US has kept the pressure on the emirates to monitor and keep track of Iran's foreign trade and by extension the value of provisions declared for Iranian ports as well as the value of goods shipped from Iran abroad.
In spite of the softening of tensions between Washington and Pyongyang, the Obama [BHO] administration has shown no willingness to show a similar policy towards Tehran. How the confiscation of 10 containers of weaponry will play in BHO's new tack towards Kim Jong il, only time will tell. The US sanctions enforcer the State Department's Philip Goldberg is spreading his wings in Asia to pressure reluctant government to enforce the UN resolution on sanctions. Guam Diary knows of only two cases: one, India's seizure of 16,500 ton[n]es of sugar destined for the Persian Gulf, on the DPRK vessel 'MV Mu San' and the other, the UAE weapons haul.
Sanctions have a limited appeal since in trade, two or more parties are involved. And it is worth the risk to defy sanctions as they inhibit commerce and the ebb and flow of capital and profits.
Some countries like Singapore simply turn a blind eye. And the city state is not alone.
The UAE tour de force will add another layer of complexity to the shadow play of DPRK and US talks. Washington, lest we forget, is not always playing with a strong hand, and as the record clearly shows, that even when it does, it is less than a skillful player. Is the seizure of a shipment of weapons from the DPRK to Iran a Pyrrhic victory?

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