The power of 1874

One of the snippets from Hillary Clinton’s ASEAN speech in Thailand tomorrow, as obtained by Laura Rozen:

We are also asking every country to join in demanding transparency from the North Koreans.  A recent incident involving the North Korean ship, the Kong Nam, led the United States to conduct intensive conversations with states in the region to avert North Korea’s efforts to send shipments abroad without declaring their contents.  We were pleased that the ship turned around and returned home. The bottom line is this: If North Korea intends to engage in international commerce, its vessels must conform to the terms of 1874, or find no port.

1874, of course, is UN Security Council Resolution 1874, which carries with it the remarkable power to make North Korean cargo ships cryptically turn around before they can deliver any nuclear material (to Burma or elsewhere).  Well, okay, maybe the U.S. destroyer following the North Korean ship had something to do with it.

Still, the resolution, which also tightened sanctions on top North Korean officials, has certainly brought some pressure to bear, and it’s good to see that it forms the crux of the U.S. position on the matter.  1874, agreed to by even frequent Pyongyang ally China, represents the best leverage the international community has right now, both because of its own strengths, and, more importantly, because of the consensus that it brought together.