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RI to maintain balanced ties with N. Korea

by June 17, 2016 General

Indonesia has chosen not to pressure North Korea by strictly implementing international sanctions placed against it, government officials revealed on Thursday.

Instead, Jakarta has opted to deal with Pyongyang on its own terms and provide “measured and active contributions” to the maintenance of peace and stability in the region.

Earlier this year, the UN Security Council (UNSC) imposed fresh sanctions on North Korea in response to January’s nuclear test and the Feb. 7 launch of ballistic missiles.

The 15-member council unanimously adopted Resolution 2270, the strongest of sanctions thus far against Pyongyang. It comprises new measures covering cargo inspections, prohibitions on aviation fuel and the rare minerals trade, in addition to reaffirming previous sanctions.

UN member countries have been asked to submit their implementation reports — national action plans devised for the enforcement of sanctions domestically — within 90 days of the resolution’s adoption, or by June 2.

Indonesia did not submit its report because doing so was “not an obligation”, said Andy Rachmianto, the Foreign Ministry’s director for international security and disarmament. He argued that it was in the government’s interests to “keep the balance and maintain relations” with North Korea.

“What’s important is that the government has taken steps pursuant to Resolution 2270, such as […] issuing an official letter to relevant institutions asking that they ‘increase vigilance and enhance due diligence’ in monitoring transactions with any designated North Korean individuals or entities sanctioned.”

Of the four UNSC resolutions issued against North Korea in the past decade, Indonesia had only submitted an implementation report for Resolution 1718, which was issued in 2006 and prevented Pyongyang-bound services or assistance related to the manufacture, use or maintenance of nuclear materials and technology.

In ASEAN, only Laos and Singapore submitted implementation reports this year, with the latter having done so for all four sanctions. Vietnam, which provided action plans for resolutions 1718, 1874 ( 2009 ) and 2094 ( 2013 ), backed away from firmly committing this year.

While some may see Jakarta as softening its stance against North Korea, the government is firm with its stance on the nuclear issue.

Stability and security in the wider region and on the Korean Peninsula are highly important prerequisites for development and growth, ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir said, as evidenced by the East Asia and Southeast Asia regions’ statuses as global “engines for growth”.

“Efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region is Indonesia’s priority; if we can contribute to ensuring that [no conflict] breaks out in the region, we will do it,” he said.

In May, North Korea’s nuclear program was the subject of bilateral discussions between the Indonesian and South Korean presidents, as the two countries called on Pyongyang to halt its nuclear ambitions and comply with UN resolutions.

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in North Korea Marzuki Darusman, who is finishing his six-year term investigating human rights violations in North Korea this year, has previously questioned the effectiveness of sanctions, arguing that although they may work initially, sanctions have to be coupled with other actions.

“North Korea wants to be assured that it is secure, not threatened,” he said recently, as quoted by German news agency Deutsche Welle.

Despite all the noise, disarmament director Andy said that relations with Pyongyang remained “normal” at both ends of the scale, whether at government level or through people-to-people initiatives.