Cambodia is willing to adhere to a UN Security Council resolution on sanctions against North Korea followings last week’s nuclear test by the secretive communist state, government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Tuesday.
However, Cambodia may require assistance if called on to enforce the resolution, which bans arms-related shipments and authorizes cargo inspections of North Korean ships, he said. “We support this resolution but you know well we don’t have much commercial relations with North Korea,” Khieu Kanharith said. “Up to now, I think we’ll comply with the resolution.”
Following Pyongyang’s Oct 9 announcement that it had tested a nuclear weapon, the UN Security Council voted unanimously Saturday to impose a ban on shipments of military hardware and items related to the production of weapons of mass destruction, as well as luxury goods.
Under the resolution, all UN member states are also authorized, but not specifically required, to inspect cargo shipments to and from North Korea. China began inspecting trucks crossing the North Korean border Tuesday but has said it will not search ships at sea.
“We are confident Cambodia will live up to its responsibilities,” the US Embassy said in a statement Tuesday. “There are many details yet to be worked out concerning the implementation of the resolution. Therefore it is too early to comment on Cambodia’s potential role in enforcing the resolution.”
In a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, the North Korean government called the sanctions “a declaration of war.”
A man answering a telephone number assigned to a North Korean Embassy official in Phnom Penh said no one was available to comment on the matter.
The value of imports from North Korea to Cambodia in 2005 was only $5,000, said Thon Virak, deputy director of the Commerce Ministry’s foreign trade department.
Hout Sakor, a customs officer in charge of inspection at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, said he could not recall having seen goods from North Korea enter or leave the country and said that most goods arriving from the Korean peninsula were labeled only “Korea.” But this is understood to mean South Korea, he said.
Defense Minister Tea Banh said that before entering Cambodian waters, ships going to and from North Korea would have to pass through the territorial waters of other countries also affected by the UN resolution, meaning Cambodia’s potential responsibility was not that great.
The resolution on North Korea also calls on UN member states to prevent the transfer of prohibited items on ships flying their states’ flags.
Around the world, an estimated 700 ships fly Cambodian flags, though the vessels have no other links to the country. It is unknown if North Korean vessels sail under Cambodia’s flag of convenience.
Officials at the International Ship Registry of Cambodia did not respond to requests for comment.