Opinion

Commentary: Dealing with Kim Jong-Il

After years of wavering, the international community is finally facing up to the challenge of North Korea's build-up of a nuclear arsenal and moving to punish Kim Jong-Il's rogue regime for its errant behavior.

This is a welcome change from the pussyfooting that has characterized the international response to years of nuclear saber-rattling by Mr. Kim.

The U.N. Security Council laid the groundwork for a more vigorous approach two months ago when it unanimously approved an enhanced package of sanctions. The most important provision allows inspection of cargo vessels suspected of carrying weapons material in or out of North Korea. That, no doubt, got Mr. Kim's attention.

The sanctions could not have been approved without the consent of China and Russia — both of whom may finally have had enough of Mr. Kim's antics. They issued an unusually blunt joint appeal urging North Korea to return to the negotiating table and expressed "serious concern" over the tensions provoked by North Korea's nuclear activity.

This, too, is a welcome development, but it shouldn't have taken China and Russia this long to realize that North Korea's nuclear ambitions constitute an intolerable menace to world peace.

The sanctions were recommendations rather than requirements. Yet it's encouraging to note that some member states have been eager to put teeth into the measures.

The United Nations itself has done its part by a series of follow-up steps. For the first time, the activities and travel of key North Korean individuals connected to the country's nuclear activity have been subject to U.N. restrictions.

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