North Korea sanctions: UN security council unanimously agrees new measures


Ban on the country’s textile exports and capping imports of crude oil comes after US watered down initial tougher version to avoid veto by China

The UN security council has unanimously ratcheted up sanctions on North Korea, imposing a ban on the country’s textile exports and a ceiling on the country’s imports of crude oil.

The vote for the sanctions, the ninth package of measures imposed by the UN Security Council on Pyongyang since 2006 for its nuclear and missile tests, came as a relief to US diplomats who had feared a Chinese abstention, which would have considerably blunted the impact of the new sanctions.

In late night negotiations on Sunday, the US considerably diluted its initial draft sanctions resolution, which would have imposed a complete oil embargo and a partial naval blockade, in an effort to win support from China and Russia.

Western diplomats portrayed the Monday night vote as a win for international unity in the face of North Korean intransigence and provocations, and pointed out that it represented the toughest sanctions regime imposed on the regime to date.

“We are facing not a regional but a global threat, not a virtual but an immediate threat, not a serious but an existential threat,” Francois Delattre, the French envoy to the UN said after the vote. “This threat is what unites us in the security council and, I hope, what will bring us towards unity when it comes to the vote and hopefully beyond.”

The US mission to the UN put out a statement saying the sanctions were the strongest ever imposed on North Korea.

“This resolution reduces about 30% of oil provided to North Korea by cutting off over 55% of refined petroleum products going to North Korea,” the statement said. “Combined with the previous Security Council resolutions, over 90% of North Korea’s publicly reported 2016 exports of $2.7bn are now banned (coal, textiles, iron, seafood), which does not include revenues from overseas workers.”

However, few diplomats or observers believed the punitive measures alone would force Kim Jong-un’s regime to stop its nuclear and missile tests. It test-fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July and carried out its sixth nuclear test, a powerful blast it said was the detonation of thermonuclear device, on 3 September.

Textiles were North Korea’s second-biggest export after coal and other minerals in 2016, totaling $752m, according to data from the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency. Nearly 80 percent of the textile exports went to China.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said: “We are done trying to prod North Korea to do the right thing, we are now acting to stop it doing the wrong thing.”

However, she said the US was not looking for war with North Korea and that Pyongyang had not yet passed the point of no return.”

“If it agrees to stop its nuclear program, it can reclaim its future. If it proves it can live in peace, the world will live in peace with it,” she told the UN security council after the council adopted the new sanctions.

“Today’s resolution would not have happened without the strong relationship that has developed between President Trump and Chinese President Xi,” Haley said.

China’s UN ambassador Liu Jieyi called on North Korea to “take seriously the expectations and will of the international community” to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile development, and called on all parties to remain “cool-headed” and not stoke tensions.

Liu said relevant parties should resume negotiations “sooner rather than later.”

To kick-start talks, China and Russia have proposed a dual suspension of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile testing as well as US and South Korean military exercises.

“We think it’s a big mistake to underestimate this Russia, China initiative. It remains on the table at the Security Council and we will insist on it being considered,” Russian UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the security council.

The Pyongyang regime threatened retribution against Washington for any new sanctions measure threatening to inflict “the greatest pain and suffering” the US has ever encountered.

The UK ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, was asked why he thought the new sanctions would change North Korean behaviour considering the eight earlier resolutions had failed.

“First of all, these are significantly tougher sanctions. Secondly, you’re right that sanctions take time to have an impact, but it’s only over the last year or so that the Security Council has been sanctioning sectors of the economy,” Rycroft said.

“And the textile sector is the final sector of the economy that is not until tonight subject to a ban on exports. So this is a very significant tightening up still further of the constraints on the North Korean regime.”

Source: The Guardian

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