UN steps up sanctions on North Korea

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Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to step up sanctions against North Korea on Monday – a move that comes a week after the country’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test. Measures include a ban on textile exports and capping imports of crude oil.

The resolution is a watered-down version of a draft submitted by the United States that called for a full ban on exports of oil to North Korea and an asset freeze on leader Kim Jong Un, the Worker’s Party and the government of North Korea.

In order to win the support of North Korean allies, China and Russia, the US later proposed another draft that softened language on foreign workers and removed the full oil embargo and asset freeze. Despite these amendments, the measures implemented Monday are still the strongest sanctions ever brought against the reclusive regime.

“We don’t take pleasure in further strengthening sanctions today. We are not looking for war,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the council after the vote. “The North Korean regime has not yet passed the point of no return.”

“If it agrees to stop its nuclear programme, it can reclaim its future … if North Korea continues its dangerous path, we will continue with further pressure,” said Haley, who credited a “strong relationship” between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping for the successful resolution negotiations.

“We are done trying to prod the regime to do the right thing, we are now trying to stop it from having the ability to do the wrong thing,” she added, as quoted by CNN. “We are doing that by hitting North Korea’s ability to fuel and fund its weapons programme.”

It was the ninth sanctions resolution unanimously adopted by the 15-member council since 2006. Both China and Russia – both of whom have veto power – had expressed scepticism about the severity of the sanctions while little political effort was being made to resolve the crisis. Despite reservations, both nations backed Monday’s resolution.

“China is consistently committed to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, to the peace and stability of the peninsula and to the solution of the issue through dialogue and consultation,” said Chinese Ambassador to the UN Liu Jieyi after the vote.

“The resolution adopted by the security council today reflects this principle of three commitments and demonstrates the unanimous position of the international community of opposing DPRK’s (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) development of its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities.”

In the hours leading up to the vote, Pyongyang warned the United States on Monday that it would pay a “due price” for spearheading efforts on UN sanctions.

“The world will witness how (North Korea) tames the US gangsters by taking a series of actions tougher than they have ever envisaged,” the foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

North Korea is now banned from exporting textiles – its second-biggest export after coal and other minerals in 2016, totalling US$752 million, according to data from the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency. Nearly 80 per cent went to China.

The resolution imposes a ban on condensates and natural gas liquids, a cap of 2 million barrels a year on refined petroleum products, and a cap on crude oil exports to North Korea at current levels. China supplies most of North Korea’s crude.

© Asian Correspondent

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